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South Dakota Police Requirements

by Toni S.

South Dakota Police Requirements, How to Be South Dakota Police Officer

What are the Requirements for Becoming a Police Officer in South Dakota?

South Dakota is a landlocked Mid-Western State of the US with 309 incorporated municipalities.

63 of these municipalities have full-fledged Police Departments. It is a sparsely populated state, housing the 5th smallest population of the entire Federation. Hence, Police Departments are small too, their recruitment requirements being smaller. Only 5 of its most populous cities recruit regular basis i.e. Sioux, Rapid City, Aberdeen, Brookings, and Watertown.

Even though police recruitment processes and standards are being updated across all South Dakota Police Departments, the selection criteria of the aforesaid cities serve as the blueprints for nearly all law enforcement agencies of the State. The eligibility requirements, steps of evaluation, contingent offer and the subsequent training and certification of these cities are more or less the same, with minor differences.

Police Officer in South Dakota

South Dakota Police Academy Eligibility Requirements

The Common eligibility criteria across the 5 stated Police Departments(PD) of South Dakota is:

  • A U.S citizen aged no less than 21 years.
  • Either High School Diploma or GED equivalency.
  • Valid Driver’s License.
  • Eligible for certification from the Law Enforcement Standards and Training Commission within a prescribed period.

Additionally, many Departments mandate that the applicant have no prior criminal record except for Aberdeen, the only department to explicitly rule out a criminal record as a basis for disqualification.

Furthermore, some eligibility criteria specific to each of the aforesaid Police Department are enumerated below:

  • Aberdeen – Applicant must possess the requisite standards of physical fitness, verbal communication, clerical computer skills, and safe/appropriate driving skills. These criteria are evaluated by other PD during the screening process.
  • Brookings – Applicant may be given preference for having an 1+ years of previous law enforcement experience, Military police history (honorable discharge), 3+ years working for the City of Brookings Police Department Reserve Force, Associate’s degree in any field, Two years of college in a criminal justice field and/or a Current law enforcement certification.
How to Be South Dakota Police Officer
  • Rapid City – Applicant must obtain a National Crime Information Centre certification within 6 months of qualification. Additional preferential criteria include experience/education equivalent to 4 years of experience in law enforcement or military and an Associate degree from an accredited school.
  • Sioux Falls – Applicant must not have any history of unlawful use of controlled drugs, prescription medicine or marijuana for at least 1 year prior to the application. Additionally, Sioux Falls mandates many pre-screening criteria of other PD as an eligibility criterion i.e. no color blindness, a minimum correctable vision of 20/40, auditory ability to hear a forced whisper from 5 feet or more and the better ear of the applicant must not have any hearing loss of more than 40 decibels at 500/1,000 and 2,000 Hz.
  • Watertown - Applicants must get certified in First Aid and CPR, Hazmat, Radar equipment and breathalyzers and Firearms within 1 year of qualification.

Eligibility criteria of other PD in South Dakota certainly have fewer disqualification criteria than the aforesaid departments.

South Dakota Police Academy Submission of Application

Aspirants can apply online or submit their applications to the respective Human Resource Departments along with the necessary documentation validating their qualification of the eligibility criteria especially the copy of a birth certificate, copy of the driving license, high school or GED diploma and disclosure of prior criminal history (if any).

South Dakota Police Department

South Dakota Police Academy Evaluation

All stated PD, except Aberdeen, conduct a written exam. Watertown mandates PD applicants to sit for the Civil Services Exam. All stated PD conduct interviews, polygraph test, medical examination, psychological examination, background verification and physical exam of the candidate. Rapid City has the most comprehensive physical examination prescribing time bound mile run, sit-ups and pushups criteria subject to age slabs and gender specifications.

South Dakota Police Academy Training

Apart from departmental training, all candidates across all departments are to necessarily complete 13 weeks training at the George S. Mickelson Criminal Justice Center in Pierre, South Dakota. Herein, the 520-hour training program includes:

  • Appropriate Use of Fire Arms.
  • Policies, Procedures, and Practices.
  • Defense tactics and Use of Force.
  • Operation of emergency vehicles.
  • Study of Human Social Behavior.

Once the candidate completes the prescribed training, he/she is given a conditional offer subject to the various certifications, training, qualifications, and prohibitions demanded from the candidate are honored for a prescribed period of time.


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