So, you want to be a cop? | City Corner

By Al Compaan | Jan 19, 2017

As we all know, it's been a difficult several years for law enforcement in the United States.

As professionals in our chosen field here in Edmonds, we are not immune from law enforcement incidents and issues that happen in our own backyard – or that occur thousands of miles away.

At EPD, we take very seriously our core values of service, integrity, respect and stewardship, including our motto: "Service Before Self."

These are all part of the culture of our organization, and this culture truly begins with our candidates as a prerequisite for hiring.

So how does one go about being one of the few who is selected and hired by the Edmonds Police Department? Is it something done on a whim, or is more of a calling required to be a law enforcement professional?

As you read on, I believe you will quickly come to the conclusion that being part of the law enforcement profession does require a candidate to have a calling to serve.

All of our prospective police officer candidates start with accessing our cooperative testing service, It was formed in 2000 and assists us, and many other jurisdictions in the Pacific Northwest, with advertising, recruiting, application processing and written and physical ability testing.

Applicants may test for any agency that is represented on the website, applying online, choosing their testing date and location and, after testing, having their scores sent to the jurisdictions of their choice.

Here at EPD, scores are placed in ranked order, and we then invite candidates for an oral interview. Prospective candidates are required to complete a thorough personal history statement, providing initial insight into the background of each.

The scored interview consists of standardized questions, asked by a panel of personnel from our department. Those scores are combined with written scores, and a ranked order list is presented to the Edmonds Civil Service Commission as our eligibility list.

We also receive applications from current law enforcement officers in other departments who want to work for us. Those applicants are called “laterals,” with a similar process being followed, but from a separate civil service eligibility list.

The department then reviews the testing scores and basic qualifications to determine who will be invited for a nonscored command staff interview with the chief and assistant chiefs. We look for skill set, applicable work and life experiences, as well as an understanding of a candidate's fit with the culture of our organization.

A written personality inventory and polygraph (lie detector) exam come next. Key points that are evaluated are honesty, integrity, work ethic and anything that may signal any trouble ahead for the candidate or our agency. Those with hiring potential then undergo an extensive background investigation.

An investigator will be assigned to gather and evaluate information from the candidate's family, co-workers, and supervisors that will include detailed facets of one's life to best determine suitability for the mental and physical demands of police work.

As needed, we do travel to other places in the country where the candidate has lived or worked.

Al Compaan is Edmonds' chief of police.


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