Before we can begin to explain the process for becoming a police officer, we must first define the different classifications of officers here in New Jersey.

They include:

  • Police Officer
  • Special Police Officer (Class I and Class II)
  • Investigator
  • State Corrections Officer
  • County Corrections Officer
  • Juvenile Corrections Officer
  • Juvenile Detention Officer

Each of these classifications requires a different level of training, and the training tends to be specific to the tasks being performed. The information provided below will primarily focus on the position of police officer. However, we would be remised if we did not define the classification of Special Police Officer and discuss the route to becoming a Special Law Enforcement Officer.

There are two classifications for special officers that will be determined by the general duties to be performed by the officers.

Class One Special Police Officers are authorized to perform routine traffic details, spectator control and other similar duties. If authorized by township ordinance, class one officers are empowered to issues summons for disorderly persons and petty disorderly person’s offenses, violations of municipal ordinances and violations of Title 39. Class one officers are not authorized to carry a firearm and shall not be assigned to any duty which may require the carrying of a firearm.

Class Two Special Police Officers are authorized to exercise full police powers and duties similar to those of a permanent, regularly appointed full-time police officer. Class two officers may only carry a firearm while engaged in the actual performance of the officer’s official duties and when specifically authorized by the Chief of Police.

While not ever law enforcement agency utilizes Special Police Officers, many do. The best avenue for information on the position of Special Police Officer is to contact the agency you’re interested in and ask for their hiring process. It should also be noted that many shore towns hire Special Police Officers during the peak summer months.

Generally speaking there are three primary routes for becoming a police officer in New Jersey.

The first route is the New Jersey Civil Service Commission which governs the hiring practices of State government, 20 of the 21 counties in the state, and more than 200 towns.

In order to be considered for employment in an entry-level law enforcement position, candidates must pass a written exam called the Law Enforcement Examination (LEE). Those who pass the examination will remain in the eligible pool for two years. The pool of eligible candidates that result from the LEE will be used to fill positions for law enforcement titles in all Civil Services Jurisdictions.

Civil Service Requirements:

Education – Graduation from high school or vocational high school or possession of an approved high school equivalent certificate.
Age – Not less than 18 or more than 35 years of age at the announced closing date for filing applications for the position. In determining maximum age eligibility of veterans, the time spent in active military service during periods specified in Department of Personnel law and rules will be deducted from the attained age.

Citizenship – Must be a citizen of the United States.

Medical – As a prerequisite for appointment, appointees may be required to pass a thorough medical and psychiatric examination to be administered by the appointing authority.

License – Appointees will be required to possess a driver’s license valid in New Jersey only if the operation of a vehicle, rather than employee mobility, is necessary to perform the essential duties of the position.

NOTE: Additional information can be found at the New Jersey Civil Service Commission website and specifically in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section.

A complete listing of the New Jersey Civil Service Jurisdictions can be found at

The Civil Service towns in Ocean County include:

  • Beach Haven Borough
  • Beachwood Borough
  • Berkeley Township
  • Brick Township
  • Jackson Township
  • Lacey Township
  • Lakehurst Borough
  • Lakewood Township
  • Lavallette Borough
  • Little Egg Harbor Township
  • Long Beach Township
  • Ocean County
  • Point Pleasant Beach Borough
  • Point Pleasant Borough
  • Seaside Heights Borough
  • Seaside Park Borough
  • South Toms River Borough

The second route is the direct application to a non-civil service town, which are commonly referred to as “Chief’s Departments.” These agencies can essentially establish their own requirements as their governing body deems appropriate. Some require college and/or military experience, or a combination of both. Most will require a written examination, physical fitness assessment, and an oral interview. Generally speaking, most will require the same age, citizenship, medical and license requirements as the New Jersey Civil Service Commission and the general qualifications defined in N.J.S.A. 40A:14-122

Note: Additional information can be found on most of the non-civil service town’s websites.

The non-civil service towns in Ocean County Include:

  • Barnegat Township
  • Bay Head Borough
  • Harvey Cedars Borough
  • Island Heights Borough
  • Manchester Township
  • Mantoloking Borough
  • Ocean Gate Borough
  • Ocean Township
  • Pine Beach Borough
  • Plumsted Township
  • Stafford Township
  • Surf City Borough
  • Toms River Township
  • Tuckerton Borough

The third and final is the Alternate Route Program. This is a program in which the recruit pays their own way through the police academy. The Ocean County Police Academy DOES NOT offer the Alternate route program. However there are several academies throughout the state that offer the highly competitive program.

It should be noted that New Jersey Police Training Act requires that all persons must receive a probationary or temporary appointment prior to attending the Police Academy. The only exception is those individuals enrolled in the Alternate Route Program.