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Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find some frequently asked questions of the hiring process for the Tacoma Police Department.


What are the minimum qualification standards of the Tacoma Police Department?

The standards are confidential to ensure applicants are honest and open with their answers.


I have had a troubled past, do I still have a chance to become a Tacoma Police Officer?

Each of us has something in our past we would prefer other people not know.  In some cases, these past events may disqualify a candidate, in other cases they may not.  Due to the sensitive nature of this position, it is necessary to conduct a thorough investigation to determine suitability for employment with the Department.  The Tacoma Police Department closely reviews each applicant's drug possession history, driving record history, credit history, and criminal history, among other items.


What do I need to consider before applying?

Drug History - An applicant may be disqualified for possession of drugs depending on the number of times the drug is possessed, the type of drugs possessed, and how long ago the possession occurred.  Possession is defined as control, touching, holding, selling, trafficking, or transporting any illegal non-prescribed drug. 

  • Driving History - An applicant's driving record will be thoroughly assessed and may be a factor for disqualification.  We look at the number of infractions an applicant has received, the frequency of infractions, the type of infractions, and how long ago the infractions occurred.
  • Criminal History - An applicant may be disqualified based upon their criminal history including all arrests, prosecutions, deferred prosecutions, "Alford" pleas, and non-conviction information.  The type of crime, frequency of crime, and how long ago the crime occurred are reviewed and may be considered a disqualifier.
  • Credit History - An applicant may be disqualified based upon their current credit history.  Accounts that are currently in collections may be considered a disqualifier.


Am I still able to apply if I have physical limitations?

The Tacoma Police Department is an equal opportunity employer.  Any candidate who is physically and cognitively able to meet the requirements of the position is welcome to apply.  It would be impractical to list all of the various medical standards a candidate must meet.  However, vision and hearing standards generate the most inquiries.

  • Visual Acuity - The minimum acceptable standard of distant visual acuity must be 20/200 binocular vision uncorrected, but not less than 20/200 in the worst eye.  Such vision must be corrected to 20/20 in the best eye, and not less than 20/40 in the worst eye.
  • Color Vision - Color vision should be sufficient to distinguish the colors red, yellow, and green.  The Color vision test used is the Ishihara Test.  If the applicant does not pass this test, we then use test D3.
  • Hearing Acuity - The applicant must have unaided, or aided, hearing between zero (0) and twenty-five (25) decibels for each ear at the frequencies of five hundred (500) Hz, one thousand (1,000) Hz, two thousand (2,000) Hz, and three thousand (3,000) Hz.


What is an eligibility list?

This list is established by the Human Resources Department and is based on the written test score and military experience of candidates.  Candidates are ranked by numbers and more than one candidate may be in one rank.  For example, an eligibility list may have two candidates in Rank 1, eight candidates in Rank 2, and so on.


How many applicants do you have for a test?

On average, the City of Tacoma Human Resources office receives 400 applications per test cycle.


Does the PAT improve my standing on the eligibility list?

No.  A successful PAT earns you the right to take the written test.


What should I study to prepare for the written test?

Here are a few suggestions:

National Criminal Justice Officer Selection Inventory Study Guide with Practice Exam by Fred M. Rafilson, Ph.D., I/O Solutions, Inc.
National Basic Ability Test (NBAT v2.0) Study Guide

Police Officer Exam 4th Edition by Learning Express LLC

Barron’s Police Officer Exam 8th Edition
by Donald J. Schroeder Ph.D. (Author), Frank A. Lombardo NYPD Ret. (Author)

Master the Police Officer Exam 17th Edition by Arco

Master the Police Officer Exam: Complete Test Prep to Jump Start Your Career
by ARCO and Fred Rafilson

McGraw-Hill's Police Officer Exams by Michael Palmiotto

Police Officer Exam for Dummies
by Raymond Foster and Tracey Biscontini

Police Oral Boards: The Ultimate Guide to Successful Oral Board Interview
by Mark Denton

I want to be a Forensic Specialist, Administrative Specialist, IT Technician, Animal Control Officer, etc.  Do I have to become a police officer first?

No.  Portions of the application process for civilian positions are comparable to our commissioned positions such as the background phase; however, other steps may not be included or are different.


For further inquiries, please contact the Hiring Coordinator.


Officer Gary Wurges

(253) 591-5966

(866) 812-0107