Law Enforcement Officer Certification

1/12/2021

Certification Database

*Data collected December 2020. Information on using the database.*

Statutory Summary

Statutory law enforcement certification requirements are in place in 37 states and the District of Columbia. These laws set specific requirements for law enforcement to become certified by their state police officer standards and training (POST) board or other state certifying agency.

Certification functions similarly to a professional license. The certificate is issued by the state government as a requirement to legally work as a police officer in that state. Though most states that have certificate requirements authorize new officers to work for a year prior to requiring certification. Few states, however, have state-level statutory requirements for renewing certificates as is standard practice for all other professional licenses.

In some states, statutory certification requirements can be very detailed, with the law specifying education, age, training, examination, and disqualifying criminal records or general character requirements as well as requirements for physical and psychological examination. Georgia, Montana and North Dakota have some of the most detailed and comprehensive laws related to qualification requirements for certification.

However, in most states, the law sets very basic standards, with a few details, leaving the rest to be determined by state training boards or other local authorities designated by law.

Using the Database

Learn more about certification in the 50-state statutory database by clicking on the image at the top of the page.

Note that this section of the database encompasses statutory qualification requirements for law enforcement certification only. It does not include regulatory requirements, POST board requirements, or any other non-statutory training requirements developed at the state or local level. This also does not include local requirements, which can go above but not be less than state requirements. These standards also do not specifically cover state police agencies.

The database can be navigated by using state and subtopic filters. Text searching is available for statutory summaries or statutory language contained in the database. The map is also interactive and allows you to more quickly select multiple states to review―just hold down the control key to select more than one state. Use the reset button at the top left to clear all filters and start a new search.

Note that this database only contains statutory provisions that address each policy area. Case law, regulations or agency policy may further impact the current state of the law in each state. This database also does not address policies adopted by local jurisdictions or law enforcement agencies.

For questions, additions or suggestions, please contact amber.widgery@ncsl.org.

Additional Resources