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Police Academy
Frequently Asked Questions

Why does WCC have a more extensive prescreening process than some other academies?
While all academies are required to meet the screening standards of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), our process is designed to reduce wasted time and money on your part. An application to a police academy is a very involved and costly process. If you don't meet the minimum prerequisites or qualifications for entry, you can waste a great deal of your time and money investing in a process that will not be successful.

What kind of questions will I be asked?
The questions are of a personal nature which involve your health, moral character, driving record, past education, work record, and general background. This is to determine that you meet all the basic requirements before you get too deep into the process and find that something disqualifies you from admission.

What happens if I have problems with my past or present background?
The director will discuss whether or not you can overcome the problem(s). You will be advised on how best to proceed with the application process or informed of other career options.

What if I don't agree with the director's analysis of my background and I wish to appeal his/her denial of my application?
You have the right to contact MCOLES at 517-322-1417 and discuss an appeal process on the day that your enrollment is denied. In order to meet an enrollment deadline, you will have 72 hours to submit your appeal in writing to the MCOLES executive director detailing your reasons for the appeal.

I can't decide if I should go to college or the police academy. Which is better?
A college degree and graduation from the police academy are both valuable in law enforcement. Washtenaw and other college-based police academies require pre-service recruits to exit the academy with a two-year degree. Many police departments are increasing their entry requirements to include some college or even a two- or four-year degree. However, to be employed as a police officer in Michigan, you must graduate from an approved police academy. Consider this before you spend four years to earn a degree. After graduation to become a police officer you will still be required to complete an academy. One of the first steps in your criminal justice career is to decide what you want to do in law enforcement. If your goal is to be a prosecuting attorney, a bachelor's degree is required for admission to law school. If your goal is to be a police officer, your efforts are probably best spent entering and completing an academy. Graduation from a police academy is not a substitute for a college degree.

I want to be a profiler like on TV. Should I start by applying to the police academy?
First, it's important to remember that the profilers on TV are actors. Real profilers don't get in high-speed car chases or lead raids with the SWAT team. They spend most of their time in the office dealing with computers, reports, and research. There are few profilers and they all work for very large organizations such as the state police or the FBI. They are promoted from the ranks of their organization and must have advanced degrees in the behavioral sciences. As exciting as it looks on TV, it's virtually impossible for an individual to enter the police academy and achieve their goal of becoming a profiler.

What if I want to be a state trooper?
The state police does not hire graduates of other academies to be troopers. All Michigan state troopers are required to attend the Michigan State Police Training Academy in Lansing. If your goal is to become a state trooper, you should contact the Michigan Civil Service Commission.

What if I want to be an FBI agent?
The FBI requires that all applicants for law enforcement positions have a four-year degree. Being a graduate of a police academy may be a point in your favor during the application and interview process, but graduation from a police academy in Michigan will not give you a substantial advantage over the thousands of other people who apply to the FBI each year. If you plan on becoming an FBI agent, your first step is obtaining a four-year degree as specified in the FBI Employment Standards. Then contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation for specific information on their application process.

How do I get to be a CSI?
In real life, CSIs (crime scene investigators as they are called on TV) are drawn from the ranks of police officers within an agency. In Michigan, most crime scene specialists are uniformed evidence technicians. These are sworn police officers who receive training in evidence collection and crime scene processing. They spend the most of their time working a normal uniformed assignment. When needed, they go to a crime scene, process it for evidence, and then go back to writing traffic tickets. Forensic and laboratory personnel are sometimes employed by large organizations such as the FBI and state law enforcement agencies. They work in the lab and are normally not police officers. The first step toward these positions is to earn a Ph.D. in a relevant scientific field (chemistry, biology, physics, etc.). The next step (since they don’t have to go to the police academy) is to simply apply for jobs as they become available.

I don't want to just ride around in a police car. I really want to be a detective, motorcycle officer, or school liaison officer. Can't I just skip the police academy?
Detectives, investigators, school resource officers, snipers, motorcycle officers, and other specialized law enforcement positions are filled from within a department by police officers. Getting one of these prized positions requires working first as a patrol officer. Then after several years of experience on the job, testing, and evaluation, you may be considered for promotion or assignment to one of these specialties. And none of this can happen in Michigan unless you graduate from an approved police academy.

What if I want to be a corrections officer?
Corrections officers are employed by either a local sheriff's department, the Michigan Department of Corrections, or the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The training required for these jobs is similar to police training but by law, corrections officers must attend an approved corrections academy as well as their department in-house training. For more information on corrections officer positions, click on the corrections links above or contact the Michigan Sheriff’s Association in Lansing.

How much education or schooling do I need to get into the police academy?
If you're hired by a police department that sends you to the police academy, you are what MCOLES terms an in-service recruit. In-service recruits are required to meet their department’s educational standards. By state law, police departments cannot hire an officer unless they have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. However, police educational requirements are increasing. More and more departments are requiring applicants to have a two- or four-year degree. If you enroll yourself in the academy, you are classified by MCOLES as a pre-service recruit. Every pre-service recruit must have 45 college credits (and the proper core classes to graduate from WCC) to be admitted to the academy. This is the equivalent of a two-year degree. When pre-service recruits graduate from the academy, they receive a two-year degree from the college. Naturally, applicants who already have a two-year, four-year, or master's degree meet this standard.

What type of tests do I need to take before I can apply to the police academy?
To be admitted to any police academy you must first pass both MCOLES pre-enrollment physical fitness test and the reading and writing test. The MCOLES pre-enrollment physical test requires applicants to perform specific physical activities for a timed or measured score. WCC administers this test one Sunday each month at Ypsilanti High School. The results of this test are valid for 180 days. After the test results expire, it must be retaken to establish an applicant’s fitness for the application process. For a list of all test dates, including tests administered by WCC, see the MCOLES website . The MCOLES reading and writing test is a computer-based test which measures your reading and writing skills. It is administered by MCOLES-authorized testing sites/academies around the state. WCC offers this test one Sunday each month at the Morris Lawrence building on the main campus. The results of this test are good for life. For a list of all test dates, see the MCOLES website.

How do I sign up for these tests?
To pre-register for the pre-enrollment physical fitness test, you should refer to the MCOLES website, click the link to the test schedule, and follow the instructions. In order to take the physical fitness test you will need to present a properly completed Physician's Health Screening Form, valid picture ID, and $45 cash or money order (no personal checks will be accepted - money orders should be made out to Washtenaw Community College). To register at the test site on the day of the test, you must bring the above documents and fee to the Ypsilanti High School gym by 8:45am on the day of the test. You can also take the MCOLES reading and writing test at WCC but you must pre-register with MCOLES first. The cost of this test is $68. Contact MCOLES online or call them at (877) 422-4092. WCC cannot register you for this test!

What is the process for getting into the WCC police academy?
The application process involves several steps:
  1. Applicants review the entire WCC Police Academy web site. Unless you read everything on the site, you run the risk of missing an important step or information. The site should answer most of your questions.
  2. Review the Employment Standards for Michigan Law Enforcement Officers on the MCOLES website. These are the official state standards that every applicant must meet to be admitted to any academy in the state. If you clearly cannot meet the standards to be a police officer, it’s probably a waste of your time and money to apply to the academy.
  3. Successfully take and pass both MCOLES pre-enrollment tests. Remember, results of the MCOLES reading and writing test do not expire but the physical fitness test results are good for only 180 days. Recruits must have a valid, unexpired physical fitness test score on the first day of the academy. This may require some timing of the test or even retaking the test.
  4. Contact the director or the WCC police academy for a pre-screening review and discuss an initial appointment.
  5. Meet with the director. At this meeting, you will pick up the forms and documents needed to process your application.
  6. Complete the forms and return all documents, fees, test results, and information to the director.
  7. Attend a final admission meeting with the director to complete the process.


How long does the whole application process take?
The application/admission process takes at least four weeks to complete. However, it may take longer based on the individual and the issues that arise.

What medical problems might keep me out of the academy?
MCOLES has set standards for admission to police academies and for police employment. You can view them at MCOLES Medical Standards. If you are concerned about meeting the standards for performing the essential job functions of a police officer, please contact an MCOLES representative at 517-322-1417 for assistance.

Will glasses/contacts prevent me from being a police officer?
To enter the academy, MCOLES requires applicants to possess 20/20 corrected vision in each eye. See MCOLES Vision Standards for additional information.

I take several medications for stress. Is that a problem?
Some medications are prohibited by MCOLES during academy training. These medications constitute a potential safety risk in a police-training environment. Your medications will be evaluated based on the MCOLES standards and policies. If you have a medication issue, it must be discussed with the director of the police academy during your first contact. Part of the application process is a drug test. If you fail to disclose medications during your interview with the director or on your medical history form, your application will be rejected. It's important to realize that law enforcement training, and law enforcement itself, is a high-risk, high-stress profession. Many medications in common use by the general public cannot be used by police officers. All medications will be evaluated in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on a case-by-case basis and related medical or psychological condition. A medical review or further information may be required by MCOLES prior to being admitted.

What do you mean I have to be investigated before I get into the police academy?
MCOLES requires that academies verify and confirm the information supplied by applicants. This is done to ensure that unqualified or prohibited applicants are not admitted into an academy class or a police department.

I've reviewed the website for the WCC police academy and I want to start the application process. What do I do next?
You will need to telephone the police academy office at 734-677-5054. Ask the staff to set-up a pre-academy screening with the director. The director will ask you a series of questions to determine your eligibility.

Does it matter if I have a criminal record?
Law enforcement requires a high degree of integrity. There are several types of convictions that disqualify applicants from entrance to the academy. Generally, any felony conviction will prevent an applicant from entering the police academy.

What type of things in my background will keep me out of the police academy?
Most of the standards are self-explanatory. However, MCOLES has a good moral character standard that must be met. Things which may impact this standard include excessive debt, past drug use, and many other things not normally part of a job interview process. These are all issues that may impact an applicant’s ability to perform the law enforcement function in a fair, effective, and professional fashion. For more information on this, you can find MCOLES Administrative Rule 28.1402(e) on the MCOLES website.

What is MCOLES?
MCOLES is the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards. It is the state organization that sets the standards for police academy admissions, curriculum, and licensing. They also set the test standards, registration rules, and testing protocols.

What's the WCC police academy like?
The WCC police academy is a highly structured, academically rigorous 21-week training program. Students are required to attend daytime classes, several evening sessions, and classes are held on at least half of the weekends. The dates and times of class are subject to change. WCC, like all academies, demands a high degree of discipline and self-control from recruits. No allowances can be made for personality clashes, negative attitudes, or personal likes or dislikes. Personal work or family schedules cannot be accommodated. All of this is necessary and universal to police academies around the world and these conditions accurately reflect the realities of the law enforcement profession. A normal recruit's day at the WCC police academy goes something like this: 6:15-745am, physical training; 8:30am-12:30pm, class; 12:30-1:30pm, lunch; 1:30-5:30pm, class; 5:30-6:30pm, dinner; 6:30-7:30pm, study groups or remedial training; 7:30-11:30pm, homework.

Where are your police academy classes held?
All WCC police academy classes are held at the main campus in the Morris Lawrence building at 4800 E. Huron River Dr. in Ann Arbor, MI.

Do they have classes closer to my house?
No. The WCC police academy has only one location. There may be another training school or academy closer to your home but the distance you must travel should not be the primary factor in choosing an academy to attend. Click this link for a list of the currently approved training schools.

How do I pick an academy?
Every individual is responsible for his/her own decisions. Some of the factors students should consider when selecting an academy include:
  • The reputation of the academy - Students and graduates talk. What do graduates of an academy say? Were they satisfied with the program? Did they feel they received a good education? Would they recommend that academy to other prospective recruits?
  • The style of academy - Training schools or academies are built on one of two models: paramilitary or adult learning. The paramilitary model involves uniform inspections, marching, and other paramilitary activities. Paramilitary-style academies appeal to some applicants because of the structure and discipline. People who like a very structured, competitive environment often enjoy this type of environment. At first glance, the adult learning model may appear more relaxed and less structured. The uniforms and daily operations seem more low-keyed. The focus is more on academics than on marching. More emphasis is placed on problem solving than on shining shoes. Adult learning academies often appeal to students with a strong academic orientation. WCC is an adult learning academy. Currently at WCC, the class material is delivered using laptop computers. Recruits must be computer literate! In either style academy, you'll get the same information and skills. Students must meet the exact same state-mandated standards to graduate. It's just packaged or delivered in a slightly different form.
  • The staff - Part of any educational process is the interaction between the students and the instructors. If you feel comfortable with the way you’re treated during the application process, that’s a good sign, whereas if you feel uncomfortable when dealing with the staff, you may want to take that into consideration.
  • The timing of the academy - When does the academy start and when does it end? For some people this is an important consideration. If the timing of the program is important to you, look at several other academies to see if they fit your situation.
  • Openings in the academy - Every academy has a specific capacity. You may choose an academy based on the availability of space. This is another reason to complete the process in an efficient and timely manner. Once a student is admitted, his/her spot is secure.


How will the academy fit in with my work schedule?
The police academy is very intense, demanding, and expensive. Past students have found it almost impossible to work and be successful in the police academy. Recruits must be available from 6:00am until 7:00pm five to six days a week. Schedules change based on the curriculum, instructors, weather, facilities, and other factors. In addition to this, students have an average of two to six hours of serious study and homework each night. After investing thousands of dollars in the police academy, it seems relatively shortsighted to jeopardize your success and future to work part-time.

How much does it cost to go to the WCC police academy?
Contact the police academy office at (734) 677-5054 for the current cost of the academy.

Do I get college credit for the police academy?
Yes. The police academy is an academic class. Students who successfully graduate from the academy at WCC receive 16 credits from the college.

Is financial aid available?
Yes. Since the academy is a college for-credit course, students may apply for financial aid through the college or any other approved sources. Please contact the WCC financial aid office at (734) 973-3523 for information on available funding. The academy is proud to accept the GI Bill benefits. For some students, this may be a critical consideration in their choice of an academy. Although it is hard to believe, there are police academies in Michigan that do not recognize the GI Bill.

What type of gun do I need for the police academy?
In-service recruits (employees of a police department) have their firearms supplied by their employer. Pre-service recruits use firearms supplied by the college.

I've got a gun already. Can't I just use mine in the academy?
No. Only department- or college-issued firearms are approved for recruit training. The use of personal handguns is not allowed.

What about uniforms in the police academy?
Upon admission to the academy, recruits receive a list of uniforms required along with places to purchase them. In-service recruits have their uniforms supplied by their employer. Pre-service recruits are responsible for purchasing their own uniforms. Student uniforms cost approximately $400.

Does everybody who goes to the academy get a job?
No. Graduation from a police academy does not guarantee a job. The most recent MCOLES statistics indicate 63 percent of the students who graduate from police academies across the state secure jobs in law enforcement. Currently, WCC has a 70 percent employment rate for its graduates.

If I graduate from the police academy, where can I get a job?
Graduates of the WCC police academy will have the basic qualifications required by the state to be hired by a Michigan police department or sheriff’s department. The Michigan State Police and the DNR Conservation Law Enforcement Division both require their employees to attend and graduate from their own proprietary academies. In addition to this, some other states accept Michigan’s police academy training. Every class finds recruits considering jobs out of state based on their Michigan certification. More information on individual state requirements and standards is available at International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.

Will the police academy help me find a job?
The academy and staff do not offer job placement services. Students are responsible for their own employment search. However, issues such as job searches, resumes, and application procedures are addressed during the academy. The director maintains current job postings in the academy office for recruits and past students. Invariably, during each academy class, several agencies come to recruit applicants and discuss opportunities in their organization. MCOLES, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Michigan Municipal League all post job postings on their web site.


  1. Why does WCC have a more extensive prescreening process than some other academies?
  2. What kind of questions will I be asked?
  3. What happens if I have problems with my past or present background?
  4. What if I don't agree with the director's analysis of my background and I wish to appeal his/her denial of my application?
  5. I can't decide if I should go to college or the police academy. Which is better?
  6. I want to be a profiler like on TV. Should I start by applying to the police academy?
  7. What if I want to be a state trooper?
  8. What if I want to be an FBI agent?
  9. How do I get to be a CSI?
  10. I don't want to just ride around in a police car. I really want to be a detective, motorcycle officer, or school liaison officer. Can't I just skip the police academy?
  11. What if I want to be a corrections officer?
  12. How much education or schooling do I need to get into the police academy?
  13. What type of tests do I need to take before I can apply to the police academy?
  14. How do I sign up for these tests?
  15. What is the process for getting into the WCC police academy?
  16. How long does the whole application process take?
  17. What medical problems might keep me out of the academy?
  18. Will glasses/contacts prevent me from being a police officer?
  19. I take several medications for stress. Is that a problem?
  20. What do you mean I have to be investigated before I get into the police academy?
  21. I've reviewed the website for the WCC police academy and I want to start the application process. What do I do next?
  22. Does it matter if I have a criminal record?
  23. What type of things in my background will keep me out of the police academy?
  24. What is MCOLES?
  25. What's the WCC police academy like?
  26. Where are your police academy classes held?
  27. Do they have classes closer to my house?
  28. How do I pick an academy?
  29. How will the academy fit in with my work schedule?
  30. How much does it cost to go to the WCC police academy?
  31. Do I get college credit for the police academy?
  32. Is financial aid available?
  33. What type of gun do I need for the police academy?
  34. I've got a gun already. Can't I just use mine in the academy?
  35. What about uniforms in the police academy?
  36. Does everybody who goes to the academy get a job?
  37. If I graduate from the police academy, where can I get a job?
  38. Will the police academy help me find a job?
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