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hiring process

Road to success

Joining law enforcement is a noble endeavor, and we’re excited to provide you with an overview of the journey ahead. Our comprehensive 10-step process ensures that candidates are thoroughly prepared and equipped to serve their communities with integrity, compassion, and professionalism. Each candidate must pass one step to move to the next. From initial application to academy training and beyond, we’re committed to selecting candidates who embody the highest standards of service and dedication. Explore each step in detail below to begin your journey toward a rewarding career in law enforcement.

STep 1: Physical Agility Test

The Physical Agility Examination is a crucial stage in assessing candidates’ physical readiness for the demands of the role. To prepare for this test, candidates are provided access to the ILEA physical fitness standards page, offering detailed insights into the expectations and requirements. Additionally, candidates can take advantage of our department officers’ Workout With Us dates, strategically designed to help candidates prepare effectively. These sessions are conveniently listed on our Facebook Page under Events, ensuring accessibility for all. Attire for the examination should be comfortable workout clothes and tennis shoes, allowing candidates to perform at their best. Hydration is key during physical exertion, so candidates are encouraged to bring water to the test. The examination itself spans a full hour, providing ample time for candidates to demonstrate their physical capabilities and readiness for the role.

STep 2: Written examination

The Written Examination stage of the hiring process is a pivotal step in assessing candidates’ aptitude for the position. To prepare for this examination, study guides are available online for a small fee, or candidates can obtain a complimentary guide by attending designated events like Open House dates or Workout with Us sessions, all conveniently listed on our Facebook page. The examination comprises four components: Reading Comprehension, Writing Skills, Grammar, and Math. To proceed to the next stage, candidates must achieve a minimum score of 70%. While the exam is proctored and takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete, candidates are encouraged to dress casually, with the option to wear workout clothes if they are scheduled to take the physical fitness test before or after the written examination. 

Step 3: criminal history check

During the Criminal History Check stage of the hiring process, the candidate’s physical presence is not required. Instead, a local records check is conducted to ascertain whether the candidate has a felony record. This step serves as a crucial component of the broader Background Investigation process, ensuring compliance with eligibility criteria outlined, including automatic disqualifiers listed in detail in the Background Investigation phase. By verifying the absence of any felony convictions, the hiring authorities uphold the standards necessary for the position.

step 4: oral interview

The oral interview stage of the hiring process entails a panel interview conducted by three members of the city government, emphasizing a collaborative assessment of candidates. Located at our facility 1 Ezra Jackson Way, this interview typically lasts between 20-30 minutes, providing an efficient yet comprehensive evaluation of applicants. Maintaining a professional demeanor is paramount, dress code is formal business. While the interview is traditionally conducted in person, long-distance applicants can explore the possibility of a virtual interview by reaching out to the hiring authorities. Following the interview, candidates receive immediate feedback, providing clarity on their performance and whether they have successfully progressed to the next stage of the selection process.

step 5: background investigation

During the background investigation phase of the hiring process, candidates who have successfully completed the previous section are assigned a Personal History Questionnaire (PHQ) investigator. This investigator facilitates the process by emailing the candidate the necessary questionnaire through Guardian, a platform designed to streamline such procedures. It’s essential for candidates to review the list of automatic disqualifiers, readily available on the FAQ section at the bottom question 5, to ensure eligibility. Adherence to a business casual dress code is expected throughout this phase, maintaining a professional standard befitting the thoroughness of the investigation. Typically spanning 4-6 weeks, this segment of the hiring process demands patience and cooperation from all parties involved. For updates on the status of their investigation, candidates are encouraged to communicate directly with their assigned PHQ investigator.

step 6: polygraph exam

The polygraph examination, a pivotal step in the pursuit of truth, unfolds over the course of approximately two hours within the confines of our station located at 1 Ezra Jackson Way. This central location ensures accessibility and convenience for all participants. As individuals prepare to engage in this significant process, they are reminded to adhere to a dress code of business casual. This subtle guideline underscores the professionalism and gravity inherent in the examination, setting the tone for the proceedings ahead.

step 7: chief interview

Candidates attending the Chief’s Interview are expected to adhere to a business dress code. The interview typically spans 30 minutes and is conducted in person at the station located at 1 Ezra Jackson Way. Following the interview, successful candidates will be offered conditional employment pending the results of their medical examination and psychological evaluation (MMPI), both of which are financed by the city and conducted subsequently. The medical test, lasting 4-5 hours, occurs at a nearby medical facility, while the psychological evaluation, taking 3-4 hours, is also conducted locally. Business casual attire is recommended for both the medical test and the psychological evaluation.

step 8: mandatory ride-a-long

Participation in the Mandatory Ride-a-long entails completion of the attached ride along form and adhering to a casual dress code. Typically, this involves an 8-hour shift scheduled between the hours of 1500 and 0300, during which candidates gain firsthand experience in the field alongside experienced personnel. This immersive opportunity allows individuals to familiarize themselves with the duties and responsibilities of the role while providing valuable insights into the day-to-day operations of the department.

step 9: certification

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the last step of the process before heading to the Academy. Certification is granted to the top 15 candidates who have completed all test phases, as determined by the City’s Civil Service Commission, qualifying them for the position of Police Officer. 

step 10: Academy

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) is a premier institution dedicated to providing comprehensive training and education to aspiring law enforcement professionals in the state of Iowa. Located in Johnston, Iowa, the academy offers rigorous programs designed to equip recruits with the necessary knowledge, skills, and ethical standards to excel in their law enforcement careers.

  • Academy is 16 weeks, full-time, Monday-Friday
  • Candidates will complete a total of 636 hours over the 16-week course
  • Fundamental principles, procedures, and techniques of law enforcement, including Criminal Law, Patrol Procedures, Investigative Procedures, Report Writing, Defensive Tactics, Firearms, Leadership, Ethics, Community Policing, Police Vehicle Operations, Traffic Enforcement, Accident Investigation, Handling Emotional Situations and First Aid/CPR
  • Modern facilities equipped with advanced technology and resources to facilitate effective learning and practical training experiences
  • FAQs can be found here



Join the Council Bluffs Police Department (CBPD) and dedicate yourself to advancing the wellbeing of our community and protecting the rights of all people.

Embark on a meaningful career with multiple opportunities for professional development and advancement. The CBPD family has openings and we promise to challenge you, rely on you, and take care of you.

Frequently asked Questions

The CBPD serves and protects the community of Council Bluffs, which comprises over 62,000 residents and businesses. It operates within the greater Omaha metro area, enforcing city, state, and federal traffic and criminal laws.
Yes, candidates must live within 60 miles (according to Google Maps) of the police department located at 1 Ezra Jackson Way, Council Bluffs, IA 51503.

Yes, officers have the opportunity to join the Fraternal Order of Police Union, specifically FOP Lodge 1

  • This phase includes a thorough background investigation covering criminal history, driving records, employment history, interviews with various individuals, and a polygraph exam to assess truthfulness.
  • Under investigation or indictment for a felony offense
  • Commission or admission of felony, aggravated misdemeanor, or crime involving moral turpitude
  • Conviction for a crime of domestic violence
  • Certain juvenile criminal behavior
  • Specific traffic violations
  • Failure to obtain a valid driver’s license upon appointment
  • Providing false information during the selection process
  • Involvement in the sale, manufacture, or transportation for sale of any scheduled drug or narcotic
  • Recent use or ingestion of scheduled drugs, narcotics, or steroids
  • Dishonorable discharge from any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Any offer of employment requires the candidate to sign an agreement for reimbursement of training expenses and cost of specialized personal equipment. This agreement stipulates that if a Police Officer voluntarily terminates employment within the first five years, they must reimburse the City on a pro-rata basis for certain costs as described in City policy 211:1, Termination of Employment.
  • Juvenile criminal behavior may be considered for disqualification, particularly if the offense involved serious injury to another, sexual assault, use of a deadly weapon, or if the applicant was tried and convicted as an adult for a felony committed as a juvenile.
  • The Physical Agility Examination is the first phase of testing, developed and mandated by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. All candidates, except currently certified peace officers through the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, are required to take this exam. The exam assesses candidates’ physical fitness, and only those who pass are eligible to proceed further in the testing process. The test consists of mile and half run, maximum pushups in a minute, and maximum sit-ups in a minute. Iowa Law Enforcement Academy used the Copper standards to evaluate the scores.
  • The Written Examination is the second phase of testing and is required by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Candidates are given a recommended amount of time to complete the exam, typically about 2 hours. All applicants must begin testing at the same time, and late arrivals are ineligible to participate. Candidates who score 70% or above on each section of the exam are eligible to proceed in the testing process.
  • Yes, candidates who are currently certified peace officers through the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy are not required to attend either the Physical Agility Examination or the Written Examination. Additionally, successful Stanard & Associates POST scores may be used in lieu of retesting for the Written Examination.
  • Traffic violations are generally excluded from disqualification, with specific exceptions such as DUI offenses within three years from the date of application and certain serious traffic violations within 24 months prior to the application.
  • Yes, bilingual officers receive an additional $25.00 per paycheck as compensation for their language skills.


At our core, we are committed to fostering a culture of community-driven policing, where the well-being of our community members stands as our utmost priority. With an unwavering focus on nurturing relationships built on trust, respect, and empathy, our department strives to provide quality service to all with a steadfast dedication to excellence.
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