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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Certification Process

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How do I apply to become a certified peace officer?
The first step is to contact an agency for a job as a peace officer or a position as a reserve officer. The agency hiring process may include agency testing, physical ability testing, psychological testing and oral boards. The process will include a complete background investigation, polygraph and medical examination. If the agency chooses to hire an applicant, the agency notifies AZPOST by sending an appointment document to AZPOST. AZPOST audits all agency employment packages to ensure that the qualifications for certification are met. Those qualifications can be found in Rules R13-4-105, 106, 107 and 109. Applicants should be mindful that AZPOST establishes the minimum standards. Agencies are free to have stricter standards and many of them do. Applicants may not apply directly to AZPOST for certification. All applications for certification are handled through the appointing agency. Only after an agency chooses to appoint an applicant and makes the appointment does the certification application process begin.
What training is required?
The agency will enroll newly appointed peace officer trainees in the basic training academy of the agency’s choice. Each academy will provide the AZPOST Basic Peace Officer Course with a minimum of 585 hours of mandated training. Trainees must successfully complete all of the academy requirements and pass a Comprehensive Final Examination to become AZPOST certified. There is a process for experienced officers to take a test and avoid repeating a basic academy called the AZPOST Waiver Process. This consists of a written test, driving proficiency, firearms qualification and the POPAT (physical agility test). It is the appointing agency’s choice whether to send an applicant through a basic academy again or allow them to pursue the Waiver Process.
What happens to my certification if I quit or lose my job?
Certification becomes inactive upon termination, resignation, retirement, or separation from the law enforcement agency for any other reason. A person who has inactive peace officer certification has no law enforcement authority. A person with inactive certification who takes action as a peace officer under certain circumstances may be committing the crime of impersonating a public servant. In order to perform the duties of a peace officer or exercise the authority of a peace officer, a person must have both active peace officer certification and be authorized to exercise that authority or perform those duties by the appointing law enforcement agency.
How long will my certification remain inactive?
Certification that has become inactive because a person has left an agency's employment remains inactive for three years. If the person gets appointed by another agency before the three years has passed, certification can be reactivated without additional training. However, every appointment must be preceded by the entire background process, polygraph, and medical examination. If a person has not held a valid peace officer appointment for three years, AZPOST certification lapses and it is gone.
Can I keep my certification longer if I stay up on all my continuing training requirements?
No. Certification does lapse after three years and there is nothing except a legitimate appointment by a law enforcement agency after a complete background investigation that will prevent it.
If my certification has lapsed, how can I become certified again?
Applying for certification when lapsed is exactly the same as making an initial application for certification. The person must first get appointed by an agency that has determined the person meets all current AZPOST minimum standards for certification and pass the POST audit. The applicant may be able to avoid attending an academy again, however, if they take and successfully complete the AZPOST Waiver Process. This consists of a written test, driving proficiency, firearms qualification, and the POPAT (physical agility test). It is the appointing agency’s choice whether to send an applicant through a basic academy again or allow them to pursue the Waiver Process.
How can I obtain a copy of my Arizona Certification?
Individuals may request a copy of their Arizona Certification Record, follow the instructions at this link: Certification Record Request Form
How can I obtain certification in Arizona if I have been a peace officer elsewhere?
If an applicant served honorably as a peace officer in another state or for the federal government and s/he meets all of the eligibility requirements, s/he may be certified via the AZPOST Waiver Process, and become certified without attending an Arizona academy. However, it is the appointing agency’s choice whether to send an applicant through a basic academy again or allow them to pursue the Waiver Process.
Can I attend an academy at my own expense without being appointed by an agency?
Some police academies may offer an enrollment option for individuals who want to attend at their own expense without the required appointment by an agency. These “Open Enrollees” may make application to the academy and must meet the same minimum standards as an appointed enrollee. Upon successful completion of the academy, an Open Enrollee is not a peace officer and does not have AZPOST certification. However, the person may be appointed by an agency after the complete background and hiring process if the person passes the AZPOST audit. Depending on the time elapsed since the academy, the person may be required to pass the Waiver test prior to certification.
Can a person who has used illegal drugs become a peace officer in Arizona?
Arizona POST is concerned with past illegal drug use because it demonstrates a willingness or propensity to do illegal things. It shows a lack of respect for the law. At the same time, AZPOST recognizes that many people experiment with marijuana or other drugs in their youth. Therefore, the AZPOST standard for pre-employment illegal drug use is “experimentation.” An applicant may not have used drugs other than for experimentation. The rule defines experimentation by stating presumptive levels of use that are experimentation. Any use over those presumptive numbers can only be determined to be experimental by the Board through a petition from the agency asking the Board to look at all the facts and circumstances of use and see whether the use was experimental as opposed to, for example, recreational. The numbers are divided by age and type of drug. Illegal marijuana use is presumed to be experimental if the numbers do not exceed 20 in a lifetime, with no more than five of those uses being at age 21 or older. Narcotics and dangerous drugs as defined by A.R.S. §13-3401 are presumed to be experimental if the illegal usage does not exceed five in a lifetime, with no more than one of those uses being at age 21 or older. There are also time limits prior to application within which no illegal use of any character is allowed — three years for marijuana and seven years for dangerous drugs or narcotics. Applicants’ answers to all background questions are tested and verified by polygraph.
Can a person who has been arrested become a certified peace officer in Arizona?
AZPOST looks to a person’s conduct rather than the arrest record to determine suitability to be a peace officer. It is the commission of crimes that concerns AZPOST. Commission of crimes demonstrates a willingness or propensity to do illegal things. This shows a lack of respect for the law. Applicants will be asked to list all police contacts, whether as a suspect, witness or otherwise. Applicants will also be asked to disclose all undiscovered crimes, things that nobody but the applicant may even know about it. Complete disclosure and truthfulness on these questions is usually more important than what is disclosed. The only absolute bar to certification is the conviction of a felony. Other offenses will be reviewed on a case by case basis to see how the conduct reflects on the public trust in the profession and the ability of the individual to perform the duties of a peace officer, such as to testify credibly in court. Applicants’ answers to all background questions are tested and verified by polygraph.
How do I find an agency with which to make an application?
There are numerous agencies (approximately 170) in Arizona that employ peace officers. Almost all city, county and state agencies maintain an employment section on their governmental websites. Each agency has unique attributes that may differentiate it from others. In addition to traditional law enforcement, you may find specialty peace officer positions in many state agencies. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police website, http://azchiefsofpolice.org lists available positions that are provided to them for publication by government agencies.
Do other states recognize my AZPOST certification?
There are states around the country that may recognize your AZPOST certification. You can view the other state employee requirements via their websites or you can send for a Reciprocity Handbook from the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). The IADLEST Reciprocity Handbook consolidates police officer employment requirements gathered from all 50 state peace officer standards and training organizations (POST Agencies) and the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

See the links at the Employment Opportunities Page.