What is the hiring process like to become a South Orange Police Officer?


South Orange is a Civil Service town and therefore we are guided by and follow Civil Service rules for hiring a South Orange police officer. Of the 565 municipalities in New Jersey 194 are governed by Civil Service.

For more information about the Civil Service Commission please visit: https://www.state.nj.us/csc/

The initial written Civil Service exam for an entry level position is open to any member of the public that is interested, however South Orange residents must be considered for employment prior to nonresidents. Potential applicants take a statewide written exam that is administered approximately every three years. When there is a need to hire a South Orange police officer, South Orange requests a hiring list from the State office. New Jersey Civil Service sends South Orange a list of potential applicants that have passed the Civil Service test and ranks them by score. South Orange has an ordinance that allows us to request potential applicants that live in South Orange first, and then when that list is exhausted we request a list of potential applicants from Essex County. There are many reasons why we may exhaust numerous hiring lists during the hiring process. For example, as time goes on from the initial test date potential applicants may have been disqualified in our process, become uninterested in the position, or may have been hired by another municipality.

Potential Candidates are subject to the following:

  • Mental Health Evaluation
  • Physical Evaluation
  • Drug Screening
  • Rigorous Background investigation conducted by our Detective Bureau
  • Criminal History investigation
  • Driving History investigation
  • Present and Past Employers Check, including review of the candidate’s Internal Affairs file if they have previous law enforcement employment
  • Personal Reference investigation 
  • Social media history investigation 
  • Interview with the Chief of Police and Command Staff

Once a candidate is selected, they are sent to the next available police academy for approximately 6 months of police academy training. There, police recruits receive extensive classroom room instruction covering such topics as: Criminal law, motor vehicle law, racially influenced policing, cultural diversity, and handling individuals with special needs. Police recruits also participate in hands-on training such as emergency vehicle operation, hand cuffing techniques, CPR certification, and firearms safety and proficiency. Police recruits also take-part in physical conditioning exercises.

When a police recruit satisfies all of the requirements that the police academy has set forth, the police recruit graduates and is now Police Training Commission (PTC) certified. The PTC falls under The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.

For more information about the PTC and academy training please visit: https://www.state.nj.us/lps/dcj/njptc/home.htm

Upon completion of the police academy the South Orange probationary police officer returns to the police department to complete two months of field training with a field training officer (FTO). The Field Training program is comprised of 8 phases of instruction with daily objectives and weekly milestones, which must all be reviewed by training officer(s) & direct line supervisors before moving onto the next phase. An FTO is a well-rounded seasoned police officer that has the shown the ability to impart their experience and knowledge on probationary police recruits and has completed a course of training to be a certified FTO. The South Orange probationary police officer rides in the same police vehicle as the FTO, shadowing the FTO during the two months. One of the many responsibilities of the FTO is to reinforce the training that the police recruit received in the classroom and apply it to gain practical experience during calls for service. The FTO also familiarizes the probationary police officer with rules and regulations that are specific to the South Orange Police Department. Each police recruit receives a copy of the South Orange Police Department’s Rules and Regulations. After successful completion of the two months in the field training program, the probationary police officer is now permitted to patrol in a police vehicle on their own.

From the graduation date from the police academy, for the duration of one full year, a South Orange Police academy graduate is considered a probationary police officer. During that probationary year the officer’s performance is regularly and formally evaluated by their immediate supervisors. At the  conclusion of the one year, if the conduct or capacity of the probationary police officer has not been satisfactory, they will be notified in writing that they will not receive absolute employment and may be discharged from their position as a police officer in the South Orange Police Department

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1. What is the hiring process like to become a South Orange Police Officer?
2. What type of continuing education and or training does a South Orange Police Officer receive during their career?
3. Why is the word PROUD written on the back of all of the department’s police vehicles?
4. Do South Orange Police Officer’s currently wear body worn cameras?
5. What is the Primary function of the Internal Affairs Unit at The South Orange Police Department?
6. Does the South Orange Police Department have an early warning system which identifies problematic behavior or actions prior to them becoming a much larger issue?
7. Can an anonymous person file a complaint against a South Orange Police Officer?
8. Does the South Orange Police Department have a Use of Force policy?
9. Are South Orange Police Officers trained to verbally de-escalate a situation before resorting to using force?
10. Are there any circumstances where a South Orange Police Officer is permitted to use excessive force?
11. Can a South Orange Police Officer shoot at or from a moving vehicle?
12. Are South Orange Police Officers required to intervene if they witness another officer using excessive force?
13. Are South Orange Police Officers required to report incidents where they have used force?
14. What is the difference between a Use of Force Report and a complaint of excessive force?
15. What use of force options are available to a South Orange Police Officer?
16. Under what circumstances may a South Orange Police Officer use physical or mechanical force?
17. Under what circumstances may a South Orange Police Officer use deadly force?
18. Are South Orange Police Officers permitted to use chokeholds?
19. If a South Orange Police Officer uses force during an encounter, are they trained to administer the necessary medical aid to the subject should it be required?
20. Do the South Orange Police Department’s policies and procedures regarding Use of Force align with the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign?
21. Does the South Orange Police Department have any options in place to redirect juvenile offenders out of the criminal justice system?
22. What is the level of police involvement with youth and in schools (specifically, DARE, LEAD, SROs, and athletics)?
23. Does the South Orange Police Department currently have a civilian review board?
24. What types of calls for service does a South Orange Police Officer respond to? What other resources does South Orange have to reduce the number of calls to the police?
25. Does the racial makeup of the South Orange Police Department reflect the community it serves?
26. How can I obtain a copy of a police report?
27. How do I apply for a firearms ID card and/or a handgun permit?