Police Officer Career Information

Police Officer Career Information

The University of New Mexico Police Department (UNM PD) has an authorized strength of40 sworn, New Mexico State certified police officers on the force. Each officer is required to meet New Mexico State certification standards and has full authority to enforce all applicable laws, ordinances and traffic regulations. UNM PD officers are also commissioned as a deputy sheriff in Bernalillo County by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office. The University of New Mexico Police Department (UNM PD) investigates complaints and criminal activity and works closely with the District Attorney's Office to ensure effective prosecution.

The UNM PD recruits qualified applicants for the positions of Police Recruit, Lateral Entry Officer and Police Officer (eligible for Certification by Waiver of previous training). Learn more about eligibility requirements by clicking here

The application process is highly competitive, encompasses many testing phases and requires dedication by the applicant. Applicants who successfully complete the rigorous selection process enter into the ranks of the UNM PD and an exciting and rewarding career of a Police Officer.

You can view the job descriptions for each position online at unm.edu or by clicking the links below:

Police Recruit

Police Officer (New Mexico Certified Officer, or eligible for Certification by Waiver)

The University of New Mexico also offers a competitive benefits package for all employees. In addition to medical, dental, and vision coverage, employees may be eligible for tuition credits for themselves and family members and enjoy discounted tickets to university athletic events, community events, discounted golf memberships and discounted tickets to events and shows at Popejoy Hall.

The process for selecting and hiring Officers and Recruits can take several months. Only the most qualified applicants are considered. The application process proceeds through the following phases. New Mexico State certified police officers or those applicants eligible for Certification by Waiver of previous training complete a modified selection process. Click on the links to learn more about each:

Written Testing

All UNM PD applicants must successfully pass a written exam. This exam is usually scheduled a few weeks after the close of job announcements. The exam tests an applicants general ability in subjects such as English, math and problem solving.

Many private companies offer practice law enforcement examinations which many applicants find helpful. Many bookstores and online providers also provide practice exams for police positions and many public libraries stock these reference materials for check out. Applicants are encouraged to explore these options in order to better prepare themselves for the exam. Applicants who successfully complete the written exam will be scheduled for a physical assessment test.

You are encouraged to contact Lieutenant Larry Bitsoih at (505) 277-4508 if you have any questions.

Physical Assessment

Police Officers must be physically fit and must pass a Physical Assessment to be eligible to attend the Police Academy. Applicants who have successfully completed the application and written testing portions of the process will be scheduled for this assessment.

Many applicants find this portion of the process to be the most challenging and often do not allow themselves adequate time to prepare. Applicants are encouraged to prepare for these tests ahead of the assessment date. (Many applicants begin practicing even before applying for the position). Links to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) standards are listed below.

Applicants who are scheduled for the physical assessment must bring the UNM Physical Assessment Medical Clearance with them to the assessment. This form must be signed by a medical doctor prior to beginning the assessment. You may download this form in .pdf format by clicking the link above.

Applicants without this form will NOT be allowed to continue in the process.

** Completing this form often requires applicants to arrange for an appointment with their doctor, which may take several weeks to schedule. However, applicants may not have appropriate time between the written testing and physical assessment to schedule this appointment. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to download this form as soon as possible, upon submitting their application, and schedule your appointment to be prepared for the physical assessment.**

The assessment consists of the following five tests:

  • 1.5 mile run
  • 300 meter run (sprint)
  • Push Up Challenge
  • Sit Up Challenge
  • Sit and Reach

Applicants are required to complete the 1.5 mile run and 300 meter run at the 40th percentile, as established by DPS. Certification By Waiver (CBW) applicants are required to complete the 1.5 mile run and 300 meter run at the 50th percentile. These standards, as well as the standards for all tests, are published online by DPS and can be viewed at: http://nmlea.dps.state.nm.us/index.php/basic-training-bureau/

Although they are not a part of the employment physical assessment, applicants who are selected for Police Recruits and sponsored to the Police Academy must also complete two Agility Tests. More information about this and other Police Academy physical programs is available from the Department of Public Safety at http://nmlea.dps.state.nm.us/index.php/basic-training-bureau/

Background Investigation

Applicants who have successfully completed the application, written testing and physical assessment testing will be assigned a background investigator. This investigator will become your primary contact with the department for the remainder of the process.

Your investigator will provide you with a questionnaire packet which you will be required to complete and have notarized. A complete background check will be completed on you which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Criminal history checks
  • Credit checks
  • Interviews with friends, family and neighbors
  • Interviews with former and current employers
  • Important document review, including your birth certificate, social security card, high school and college transcripts, military service records (DD-214's) and financial records
  • Candidates who are applying as a Lateral Entry or Certification by Waiver candidate should also have training certificates and curriculum information from prior law enforcement training

Applicants should be prepared for this and should prepare their references for calls and interviews by your investigator. This process is one of the longest in the application process and can often take several weeks. In order to expedite this process, applicants should begin to collect up to date contact information (address and phone numbers) for references and employers. Having these items ready when your investigator begins your background investigation will expedite your investigation; however, applicants who do not have these items ready, or who delay obtaining them may not be eligible to continue in the process.

Your recruiter can provide you more information on this phase of the process, and more information will be available at orientation.

Oral Boards (Interviews)

Applicants who have successfully completed the Application, Written Exam, Physical Assessment and Background Investigation are scheduled to appear before an Oral Interview Board. During this phase, which usually lasts about an hour, applicants will appear before a panel of interviewers (usually 3-5 persons) consisting of police and civilian personnel. The applicant will be asked a series of questions regarding their previous work experience, personal goals and experiences. Applicants should be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • Why do you want to be a police officer?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Explain your previous work and education experience.

Numerous books and study guides with sample questions are available at bookstores, online or at your local library. It is a good idea to practice this type of interview beforehand to relieve any nervousness you may have.

Applicants for this phase are expected to appear in business attire.

At the conclusion of the oral boards, successful applicants are scheduled for a second Oral Board, with the Chief of Police and command staff. This board usually follows the first by a couple of weeks and follows a very similar format as the first.

At the conclusion of both Oral Boards, the Chief of Police will select the best applicants to continue in the process.

Selection for Hiring

Applicants who are selected to continue the process will undergo a medical evaluation (physical) and psychological testing which may take several weeks from scheduling to completion. During this time applicants may also participate in an academy Pre-Assessment at the Police Academy which evaluates an applicant's readiness to attend the Police Academy. Applicants will also receive information about the upcoming Academy.

Upon the applicant's successful passing of all evaluations, the Chief of Police will be presented with all qualified applicants. The Chief will then extend an offer of employment to those applicants who are selected.

As you can see, this is a long process, and requires a lot of dedication and diligence on the part of the applicant. However, this process ensures that UNM PD can hire the most qualified and exceptional personnel to serve in our department and continue our proud tradition of service. After completing the process, successful applicants are rewarded with a challenging and fulfilling job with the UNM PD and are invited to begin the Police Academy and become a Police Officer!

If you think you have what it takes to join the UNM PD and are interested in beginning our process, contact Lieutenant Larry Bitsoih at (505) 277-4508 or email at rolujan@unm.edu.

Police Academy

Once hired as a Police Recruit, you will begin a probationary period and you will attend the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Police Academy in Santa Fe. While in the Academy, you will receive hundreds of hours of training in all areas of law enforcement including law, firearms, defensive tactics, driving and physical fitness. Recruits at the Academy adhere to a strict schedule and must meet rigorous academic requirements. The schedule and standards for graduation are challenging and are designed to produce professional and knowledgeable Police Officers. More information on the Police Academy is available from the DPS at http://nmlea.dps.state.nm.us/index.php/basic-training-bureau/

Upon graduation from the Police Academy recruits are certified law enforcement officers in New Mexico and return to UNM PD where they accept their Oath of Office and become Police Officers.

New Officers then begin a training program with a Field Training Officer (FTO). This process is designed to help a new officer understand his duties and further develop the skills learned at the Academy. During this time, new Officers will work alongside an FTO who will coach and guide the new officer towards completion of this training phase, at which time the officer is able to work alone.

Upon completion of the FTO process and probation, Officers are eligible to receive certifications as K-9 Officers, Bicycle Patrol Officers, Field Investigators, Field Training Officer, Investigations, Civil Disturbance Control, Traffic Enforcement, Firearms Instructors and other specialized units