Hiring / Application Process

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From minimum qualifications to appointment, this page will walk you through the testing process for new police recruits, and the application process.

Apply with the Costa Mesa Police Department. The application process is now entirely online.

Police recruit applicants, please note: Walk-ins are NOT accepted at examinations. You must submit your application in advance to the Human Resources Division and be invited to testing.

Volunteers: Please visit the volunteer section for application information.

Minimum Qualifications

Age 21 years or older by graduation from the basic academy
No maximum age limit 
Vision 20/20 each eye corrected
20/80 each eye uncorrected and normal color vision 
Hearing Normal hearing acuity 
Height/Weight In proportion to age and frame 
Education High school graduate or equivalent. Completion of 60 or more semester units of college coursework is highly desirable, but not required 
Citizenship Must be a US citizen or permanent resident alien who is eligible and has applied for citizenship 
License  Must possess a valid California driver license or be eligible and willing to immediately apply for one (must have license at time of appointment) 
Automatic Disqualifiers

Drug Usage

  • Marijuana use within the last 2 years
  • Any Prior use of LSD, Ketamine, Heroin, PCP, Methamphetamine, other Amphetamines, Cocaine, Magic Mushrooms, Ecstacy, Bath Salts, Illegal Injectable Steroids or any other "hard" drugs not listed
  • Sales/Manufacturing/Growing/Transportation of illegal or prescription drugs
  • Currently living or associating with anyone using illegal drugs or involved in illegal activity

Theft / Criminal Behavior

  • Thefts from current employer (excluding pens; pencils, etc) within the last 2 years
  • Thefts/Shoplifting in excess of $950 within the last 5 years
  • Any Felony Conviction
  • Currently on probation / parole / or supervised release
  • Deemed "Primary" or "Dominant" aggressor in any Domestic Violence incident
  • DUI within the last 7 years
  • Illegal sex act per the Penal Code
  • Child Pornography


  • 3 at fault accidents in last 3 years
  • 5 or more moving violations in last 7 years

Work History

  • Excessive tardiness/absences in past 2 years (non medical or family leave related)

Physical Agility Test

Oral Board Interview
You will be asked questions by a panel of Costa Mesa Police Department personnel to assess your communication, reasoning, and decision-making skills.

Selected candidates who successfully pass the written, physical agility, and oral interview will be scheduled for the following procedures. Advancement in the hiring process is contingent on passing each step.

Polygraph Examination
You will attend an appointment with a polygraph examiner, during which you will be connected to a polygraph (lie detector). The examiner will determine the truthfulness of your responses to questions involving your application information, personal associates, previous employment, substance use, economic status, driving record, gambling habits, and criminal behavior. Before your test, the procedure will be completely explained and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. Every effort will be made to ensure you are comfortable and ready to proceed with the examination.

Compressed Testing Option
Please note: for those candidates that are active duty military, currently attending a police academy as an independent, require an approved accommodation, or can show proof of residency over 250 miles from the City of Costa Mesa, testing accommodation is available subject to approval. Testing will include the following components in a condensed version to include a POST written examination, physical agility test, oral interview, and a pre-background interview. In order to be considered please coordinate in advance by contacting the Training & Recruitment Team as soon as possible.

Background Investigation
You will attend an interview with a background investigator, who will then conduct a thorough investigation of your background. The background investigator will contact people who know you, such as previous employers, relatives, and references, in an effort to verify relevant information about you. Your credit status, driving record, and criminal history will also be explored. For purposes of the latter, you will be fingerprinted. All information you provide will be maintained with the strictest confidentiality.

Chief's Interview
You will attend an interview with the chief of police, to assess your preparation and compatibility with the organization.

Psychological and Medical Examinations
The psychological and medical examinations will be given to candidates who have been offered employment, with their employment contingent on passing both examinations.

You will be examined by professionals chosen by the City of Costa Mesa, who will determine if you meet the requirements to become a Costa Mesa police officer.

Final determination of appointment is made by the chief of police, upon satisfactory completion of all the above procedures.

Hiring ProcessAcademy
After your appointment, you will be sponsored to attend a 28-week training academy. At the academy, you will go to lectures and demonstrations, study textbooks, review laws, court cases, and law enforcement articles. You will complete homework, reports, and examinations on course material. Course subjects will include law enforcement principles, criminal law, rules and evidence, search and seizure, arrest and control methods, traffic laws, juvenile laws, first aid, care and use of firearms, patrol theory and methods, physical conditioning, and self-defense.

If you are currently attending a full-time P.O.S.T.-certified academy, you are encouraged to apply for a police recruit position. If you are already attending such an academy, and you successfully complete the written and physical agility testing processes, you may be sponsored through the remainder of the academy. You are also eligible to apply if you have graduated from a P.O.S.T.-certified academy within the last six months.

Additional Preparation
Santa Ana College offers three courses to help prospective applicants prepare for a career in law enforcement. For more information, visit the Criminal Justice Academies website.