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Advancement: Sergeant



Sergeants have supervisory responsibility over an entire squad or unit, which may include as many 15 – 20 officers, depending on the size of the agency.

Testing Requirements

Written Exam, Oral Interview, Assessment Center, Department Merit and Seniority

The phases of the exam are weighted which create a composite score when added together. Weighted values will vary from department to department. A sample testing process for sergeant may resemble:

Written Exam 30%: Varies from agency to agency but usually consists of a combination of textbook material specific to law enforcement management and questions derived from the General Orders, Operations Manual and Action Memoranda of the particular agency. A minimum score is determined ahead of time, usually 70% which must be reached in order to continue on with the promotional process.

Oral Interview 15%: Conducted by the police commission and/or head of the agency. Questions covering management style, ethical standards, leadership ability and hypothetical tactical situations can all be discussed.

Assessment Center 40%: Practical exercises which test the officer’s ability to lead and manage when put in specific situations. Roll playing exercises where an officer has to interact with an actor in order to solve a problem. This problem is a personnel issue such as sexual harassment, favoritism or an officer’s violation of the law. Group interviews also known as shark tanks test a group of officers’ leadership styles and ability to get along with others. (Not as popular a test anymore). Group presentation tests the ability of an officer to speak in public while solving a particular community issue.

Department Merit and Efficiency 10%: A review of the officer’s personnel file for exceptional performance and disciplinary issues. Points assigned and determined by the head of the agency.

Seniority 5%: Points issued for credible years of service to the agency, usually one half point per year to a maximum of 5 points.


Generally any non-probationary officer can take a promotional examination. Some departments may have a requirement for time-in-grade at the next lower rank.

Certifications & Education

Progress towards an Associates Degree or 60 academic credit hours in criminal justice or a related field from an accredited institution of higher learning is expected. Advanced law enforcement training should be taken, especially a “First Line Supervision” course.

Resources & Recommended Reading

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