Law enforcement agencies have a duty to protect employees and the public from injuries caused by officers. As a result, properly recruiting, selecting and training the right person for the job is a critical task for law enforcement leadership.

An employer can be held liable for the actions of an officer who injures a third party if the agency knew or should have known about an employee’s background that would indicate a dangerous or untrustworthy character. Adopting a hiring practices policy that outlines and directs the hiring process for candidate selection is imperative for departments. Also, having a policy in place will help to make sure the agency selects qualified employees, reducing liability exposure for the department.

The hiring process should include

  • physical agility and aptitude testing,
  • an oral interview,
  • a background investigation,
  • a conditional offer,
  • a medical physical,
  • drug testing and
  • psychological testing.

Regardless of the background or journey of the candidate, the hiring and selection process should be consistent. Standardizing the way that hiring takes place prevents negligent hiring and helps law enforcement leaders choose candidates who can be held to a high standard — the standard that the community expects.

Once officers are hired, their training begins. Initial training consists of departmental training and then training through the SC Criminal Justice Academy to become certified. Law enforcement officers in SC must then have 40 hours of training every three years for recertification. This includes mandatory training for legal updates, domestic violence, emergency vehicle operation and mental Health. Training should go well beyond the standard yearly training — it should be a key component in developing an officer. Every person hired has an interest in some area of law enforcement, so find the person’s interest and build on that.

A department that fails to perform its due diligence when hiring and training an officer is doing a great disservice to the officer and their community. Officers can be expected to encounter difficult incidents if they stay in the profession long enough, and a wrongful act or unnecessary action on the part of an officer can tear a community apart. The community puts their trust in the officers within a department. As the rank of the officer advances, that level of community trust will continue to increase.

Departments hiring officers should do all they can to ensure they have made the best selection. The community needs to understand that humans are making the selection — there can be no scientifically precise measure.

Risk Management Services provides a law enforcement hiring process for its member departments. SC Municipal Insurance Trust and SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund members can find information related to the law enforcement hiring process here