Joseph Libowsky,
former Special Agent

Michigan is the tenth most populous state in the US with a population of nearly 10 million people. It ranks 11th in terms of total area and Metro Detroit is among largest metropolitan cities in the country.  

To become a police officer in the state of Michigan, you need to pass the police exam and meet all of the standards that are determined by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES). Note that each agency within the state can set higher standards than the minimum determined by the commission, so you need to double check if you meet them while you are browsing the job openings 

You need to be prepared for a comprehensive hiring process that includes several components such as a written exam, physical abilities test, medical exam, extensive training, etc. As the competition is quite significant, it is necessary to be well prepared prior to taking any of the exams in order to stand a higher chance of getting hired as a police officer.  

Below you will find some useful information on the details of how to become a police officer in Michigan including the minimum state requirements for the job and the types of police exams you may encounter as part of your application process.  

Michigan police officer requirements 

The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) has published a list of selection and employment standards that should be met as a minimum by prospective police officers. Each agency is allowed to set higher standards for a given position.  

To become a police officer in Michigan each candidate should meet the following requirements:  

  • Age: The candidate should not be less than 18 years of age but there is no maximum age requirement set up.  
  • CitizenshipThe candidate should have United States Citizenship.   
  • EducationThe candidate should possess a high school diploma or GED. A college degree from an accredited institution is evidence of complying with this standard.  
  • Felony ConvictionsThe candidate should have no prior felony convictions. Expunged convictions are excluded from this requirement.  
  • Good Moral CharacterThe candidate should possess good moral character as determined by a favorable comprehensive background investigation covering school and employment records, home environment, and personal traits and integrity. Includes arrest and expunged convictions, all previous law violations, and personal protection orders.  
  • Driver’s License:  The candidate should possess a valid operators or chauffeur’s license.  
  • Disorders, Diseases or DefectsThe candidate should be free from any physical defects, chronic diseases, or mental and emotional instabilities which may impair the performance of a law enforcement officer or which might endanger the lives of others or the law enforcement officer. 
  • Mental / Emotional DisordersThe candidate should bfree from mental or emotional instabilities which may impair the performance of the essential job functions of a law enforcement officer or which might endanger the lives of others or the la 
  • Hearing: Initial unaided testing involves pure tone air conduction thresholds for each ear, as shown on the pure tone audiogram, shall not exceed a hearing level of 25 decibels at any of the following frequencies: 500, 1000, 2000, 3000; and 45 decibels at 4000 Hertz. 
  • VisionThe candidate should possess normal color vision without the assistance of color enhancing lenses. They should have normal visual functions in each eye or possess 20/20 corrected vision in each eye. 
  • Reading and WritingThe candidate should pass the MCOLES reading and writing examination or an approved agency equivalent examination. 
  • Physical FitnessThe candidate should pass the MCOLES physical fitness pre-enrollment examination. This does not apply to Recognition of Prior Training & Experience Program students. 
  • Police TrainingThe candidate should successfully complete the MCOLES mandatory basic training curriculum. 
  • Licensing ExaminationThe candidate should pass the MCOLES licensing examination upon the completion of basic training. 
  • Fingerprinting:  The candidate should be fingerprinted with a search of state or federal fingerprint files to disclose a criminal record. 
  • Oral Interview: The agency should conduct an oral interview to determine the applicant’s acceptability for a law enforcement officer position and to assess appearance, background and the ability to communicate.  
  • Drug TestingThe candidate should be tested for the illicit use of controlled substances in a Commission-certified laboratory and in accordance with Commission procedures.  

Types of Michigan police exam 

In addition to meeting the above-listed standards and requirements, each candidate will need to pass a police exam in order to to be hired by a Michigan law enforcement agency. While the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) sets the standards for police officers, it gives freedom to the individual police departments to choose the written tests that are part of their selection process. Thus, you may need to complete one of the following tests: 

Note that in addition to the written test, which may differ for the different agencies you apply with, you will also have to pass a Pre-Enrollment Physical Fitness Test.  

The MCOLES Reading and Writing Test 

The MCOLES has developed a Reading and Writing Test to be used by law enforcement agencies in the state of Michigan as part of their selection process. Most of the police departments use this test to evaluate their applicants.  

The MCOLES Reading and Writing test evaluates your reading and writing skills using 60 multiple-choice questions in each section. The aim is to prove that you possess the minimum skills as required for the job. 

The writing section covers five different subjects as follows: 

  1. Details: You need to select which of the two statements given contains more detailed and useful information. 
  2. Spelling: You will be presented with a sentence that has a missing word. You need to choose the correctly spelled word to fill in the blank from the options given below. 
  3. Words usage: You will be presented with a sentence that has a missing word. You need to choose the word that best fits the blank to complete the sentence. 
  4. Clarity: You will read a sentence with a phrase in Italics. You will have to decide whether to leave the sentence as it is or to replace the phrase with a given option. 
  5. Grammar: You will be given a sentence which may or may not be grammatically correct. From the options below, you will need to select whether to leave it as it is or to change something.  

The reading comprehension section consists of one or two passages that you need to read and then answer a few questions related to the information contained in them. The questions may be related to defining the meaning of a given word or to choosing the sentence that best summarizes the passage.  

The Pre-employment EMPCO cognitive test 

Many agencies in Michigan have selected a third party to provide the written exams for selecting their police officers. This company is Empco, Inc., which is based in the state and is specialized in testing services for public safety and municipal government agencies. 

The tests provided by Empco are developed by I/O Solutions and include a reading and writing part that is similar to the MCOLES Reading and Writing tests. It is based on the NCJOSI police exam and aims to assess basic reading and writing competencies. The other part includes behavioral questions to assess your suitability for the position. You may have to answer 120 work Style or Personality questions using a five-point agreement scale: Strongly Agree (1); Agree (2); Not Sure (3); Disagree (4); Strongly Disagree (5). This part checks your attitude, opinion, preferences, and possible actions.  

The aim of the pre-employment Empco tests is to determine your ability to learn and succeed at the police training program. No previous knowledge of or experience in law enforcement is required to pass the test. A good prep course such as Sgt. Godoy’s Michigan Police Prep can be of great help to pass the exam with flying colors and become a police officer in the state of Michigan.  

Michigan State Trooper Police Exam  

The Michigan State Police (MSP) uses the Frontline test to determine the best candidates to join their ranks.  The exam is scheduled and administered by the Michigan Department of Civil Service. All applicants need to visit the official website of MSP and follow the application steps detailed there. 

The aim of the Frontline test is to check the skills, knowledge, and abilities of each candidate and to evaluate how capable are they to do the job. It is divided into three sections: video-based human relations test, reading test, and incident observation and report writing test, and you have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the test. Note that each section is separately timed so you are not allowed to go back on it once your time is over.  

To pass the Frontline test successfully, you need to go through the following sections: 

  • The Frontline National Situational Judgment and Human Relations Video Testwhich presents you with about 50 scenarios that police officers may encounter while doing their job. You have 10 seconds to select the best alternative provided in the multiple-choice questions. The time frame for this section is 90 minutes.  
  • The Frontline National Reading Testwhich checks your ability to understand written text, consists of multiple-choice questions with blanks in them. You need to select the right option from the given alternatives to best complete the sentence. The timeframe for this section is 15 minutes. 
  • Frontline National Incident Observation and Report Writing Test is also video-based and consists of two components. The first part is presenting you with a video scenario, based on which you need to write a report. You need to use only the information presented in the visualization and you have 21 minutes to complete the task. The second part contains 15 multiple-choice questions that you need to answer in 10 minutes.  

Note that even though the Frontline test contains material directly related to the job and duties of a police officer, no previous knowledge of or experience in law enforcement is required in order to ace the exam. You only need to be familiar with its structure and well-prepared on the day of the test in order to score well. 

Detroit Police Exam 

Detroit is the largest city in the state of Michigan with a population of over 660,000 people. The Detroit Police Department is the agency that takes care of the law and order in the city.  

Currently, the Detroit Police Department numbers 2,200 officers including sworn and non-sworn personnel, divided into several specialized departments. To become one of the DPD police officers, you need to pass the MCOLES Reading and Writing Test as well as the MCOLES Agility Test. All of the applicants who meet the requirements of the Detroit Police Department can register and pass the two exams for free.  

You can keep an eye on the department website for any vacancies if you are interested in working for the City of Detroit.  

Lansing police exam 

Lansing Michigan Police Department

Lansing is the capital city of the state of Michigan with a population of nearly 120,000 people. The Lansing Police Department is divided into four main divisions – Uniform Patrol Division, Investigations Division, Staff Services Division, and Administrative Services Division. It also has several specialized units. The Uniform Patrol Division is the largest in the department with 134 employees. 

To join the Lancing Police Department, you need to pass the MCOLES Reading and Writing Test 

If you want to become a police officer in the state of Michigan, it is advisable to properly prepare for the police exam. The written tests are not so hard to pass once you are familiar with their format and requirements and if you have practiced at home. It is a good idea to invest some of your time in online courses in order to ace the police exam and join a law enforcement agency in Michigan.