Police Officer Requirements – South Dakota


MINIMUM STANDARDS Subsequent to October 1, 1971, a person may not be temporarily or permanently employed or certified
FOR EMPLOYMENT: as a law enforcement officer or continues to be employed or certified as a law enforcement officer unless he meets the following requirements:

  1. Is a citizen of the United States;
  2. Is at least 21 years of age at time of appointment;
  3. Has his fingerprints taken by a qualified law enforcement officer;
  4. Is of good moral character;
  5. Is a graduate of an accredited high school or has a high school equivalency certificate acceptable to the commission;
  6. Is examined by a licensed physician who certifies, on forms prescribed by the commission, that the applicant is able to perform the duties of a law enforcement officer;
  7. Is interviewed in person by the hiring agency or its designated representative before employment. The interview shall include questions to determine applicant’s general suitability for law enforcement service, appearance, personality, temperament, ability to communicate, and other characteristics reasonably necessary to the performance of the duties of a law enforcement officer;
  8. Takes the oath of office as required by SDCL 9-14-7 or 3-1-5. The oath may be taken before the nearest available judge of a court of records;
  9. Has not unlawfully used any prescribed drug, controlled substance, or marijuana within one year before the time of application for certification.
  10. Is eligible to reapply for certification, if the person has for any reason failed to successfully complete the basic law enforcement training program and;
  11. Has not had his certification revoked, voluntarily surrendered certification, had an application for certification refused, or been dismissed from the basic training program, unless the commission upon application declares eligible for employment or certification.
  12. Has not become ineligible for employment or certification as a law enforcement officer in any other state, as a result of any proceedings involving any revocation, suspension, surrender of, or resignation or dismissal from certification, employment or training, unless the commission, upon application, declares the person eligible for employment or certification in South Dakota.

How do I become a law enforcement officer in South Dakota?

There are a few different ways to become a certified law enforcement officer in South Dakota:

  • You can be hired on as an officer with a department. Once you are hired by an agency, that agency will sponsor you at the Law Enforcement Training (LET) Academy at no charge to you or the agency. State statute mandates you attend the Basic Law Enforcement Officer Certification Course within twelve months of your hire date. You must submit the four-page LES form, along with two fingerprint cards, to LET for processing. Once all information and background checks are finalized and minimum standards for certification are met, you will be scheduled for a date to attend a certification course.
  • You can be certified as a reciprocity student. In order to qualify as a reciprocity student, you must be a certified law enforcement officer in another state, or be eligible to be certified in another state, and be able to provide documentation on this standing. If your past training meets, or exceeds, our requirements for training, your past law enforcement training would be accepted as equivalent training. You must also be hired by a South Dakota agency as a law enforcement officer at the time of your request for reciprocity. You must fill out the four-page LES form and fingerprint cards. The next step is to successfully pass a written test. If you pass the test, you will be signed up for a certification course but only be required to attend approximately one and one-half weeks of training. These courses usually include firearms, emergency vehicle operations course (EVOC), South Dakota law, criminal law, traffic law, domestic violence, and proof of completion of ICS 100, 200, and 700.

Two technical institutes in South Dakota enjoy reciprocal agreements with the SD Law Enforcement Training Academy. Graduates or students in good standing in the final semester of the Law Enforcement Program at Western Dakota Technical Institute (WDTI) or Southeast Technical Institute (STI) are eligible for reciprocity. Law Enforcement Training may administer a written reciprocity test and skills tests to these students within two years of graduation. Administration and testing fees apply unless the applicant is hired as a law enforcement officer with an agency in South Dakota. If the reciprocity applicant fails the written test they are required to attend and successfully complete the entire Basic Certification Course. If that applicant passes the written test but fails any portion of the skills testing, the applicant will be required to attend and successfully complete that portion of the Basic Certification Course that tests that skill. The Standards and Training Commission will make eligible for certification as a law enforcement officer the applicant who successfully completes written and skills testing. The applicant becomes certified when hired by a sponsoring law enforcement agency within two years of graduation