Steps to Becoming a Reserve Officer


1.) Prerequisites/Minimum Requirements:

See the Reserve Police Applicants page for further details

2.) Job Application:

After completing the first step, interested applicants will apply by completing the on-line Reserve Police Officer Applicant Reservation Form found at the end of the “Reserve Police Applicants” page.  Once submitted, Reserve Unit personnel will review the application, in order to determine whether you meet the minimum requirements for the Reserve Police Officer position.

3.) Personal History Questionnaire (PHQ):

Applicants, who meet the minimum requirements, will be contacted by a member of the Reserve Unit’s staff, with information regarding how to complete the PHQ.  The PHQ is a screening tool, which helps determine an applicant’s suitability for police work.  Applicants will log into an internet based tool, complete, and submit the PHQ for review.  It is extremely important that applicants are careful to answer the questions completely and accurately.

4.) Oral Board:

This is a formal selection interview. It is designed to assess your ability in important areas of police work such as communication skills, decision making, and judgment.  The interview takes approximately one half hour.  Applicants who successfully pass the oral exam will be invited to participate in the background investigation phase of the hiring process.

5.) Background Investigation:

Applicants who pass the oral interview will begin the background investigation process.  The background investigation is required by the San Jose Police Department, the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.), and by law (California Penal Code Sections 13510 through 13523 and Government Code Section 1031).  Applicants will be contacted by a full-time or reserve police officer assigned that applicant’s case.  It is extremely important that applicants complete the statements in the Personal History Questionnaire (P.H.Q.) completely and honestly.  The investigation normally takes several weeks to complete and will review the following areas:

  • Personal and family history
  • Places of residence (past and present)
  • Financial status
  • Employment history (past and present)
  • Military service (if applicable)
  • Education
  • Driving record (all states)
  • Criminal record and all police contacts (all states)
  • Membership in any organizations (past and present)
  • Relationship(s) (past and present)
  • Drug use
  • References

The following items will or may disqualify applicants from selection:

  • A criminal record with a FELONY conviction, conviction of a SEX CRIME, or have a lengthy misdemeanor record may disqualify the applicant.
  • A criminal record with a CRIME OF VIOLENCE conviction, including DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, may prohibit that applicant from carrying a firearm.  This restriction is disqualifying.
  • As a subject named in a RESTRAINING ORDER, there may be restrictions related to firearms, which would be disqualifying.
  • An applicant, who is currently on PAROLE or PROBATION, whether for a traffic or criminal matter, is disqualified.
  • An applicant who has been terminated, resigned in lieu of termination, or failed probation from a law enforcement agency may be disqualified.
  • If an applicant’s DRIVING RECORD suggests immaturity, irresponsibility, or an inability to follow rules and regulations, this may also indicate unsuitability for employment.

6.) Written Psychological Exam:

This exam will be conducted by the Police Department's staff psychologists.  The exam meets the minimum P.O.S.T. and government standards.  Applicants will be given a battery of tests which will take from 4 to 6 hours.

7.) Oral Psychological Interview:

After completing the written psychological exam, applicants will be scheduled for an interview with one of the psychologists. The interview takes approximately an hour. The psychologist will complete an evaluation and prepare a confidential report that is maintained by the psychologist. This exam is a pass/fail evaluation, with the results kept confidential and protected by law.

8.) Polygraph Examination:

The exam consists of a 90 minute interview which determines the applicant's suitability for police work. The examiner will prepare a confidential report which will be maintained in the applicant's background file.

9.) Director's Interview:

Once the background investigation is complete and no issues, which would disqualify the applicant or demonstrate unsuitability for employment, have been discovered, the applicant will meet with the Director of the Reserve Unit. This is a formal interview. It is designed to assess the applicant’s ability in important areas of police work. The interview will take approximately one half hour.

10.) Staff Board Review:

Final selection of applicants is made by staff within Police Department. The selection is based on a combination of test scores, information gathered during the background investigation, the psychological assessment, findings from the polygraph examination, and notes from the Director’s interview.

11.) Medical Examination:

The city physician assesses each applicant using medical standards and qualifications established by state law for peace officers.  For detailed information regarding the medical evaluation, contact Employee Health Services at (408) 794-1250.

Please note the following information regarding minimum vision standards.  The San Jose Police Department’s vision standards are based on P.O.S.T. guidelines.

Uncorrected vision: For applicants who do not wear glasses or contact lenses, and have not had any vision-related surgery or medical procedures, the vision standard is: 20/40 or better (assessed for both eyes together).

Glasses: For applicants who wear glasses, vision with glasses must be 20/20 (assessed for both eyes together). Vision, without the glasses on, must be 20/40 (assessed for both eyes together).

Soft Contacts: One year of successful use prior to the examination. Vision, wearing contact lenses, must be 20/20 (assessed for both eyes together). Vision, without contacts, must be 20/200 (at least 20/200 in weaker eye).

RK Surgery: All post-op records must be submitted for review. No significant difficulty with glare or night vision. No indications that uncorrected far acuity will be significantly degraded within the next 2 to 3 years by progressive hyperopia. No significant diurnal instability in visual testing or function. Minimum elapsed time between surgery and qualifying examination is 6 months, if examined prior to the applicant’s 35th birthday, 1 year, if examined after the applicant’s 35th birthday.

Laser Surgery: Minimum elapsed time between surgery and examination: 3 months.
Written certification required from ophthalmologist stating that vision is stable and that there was no significant postoperative complications. Reevaluation will be required for those applicants who had significant postoperative problems.

Orthokeratology: This procedure is unacceptable, and must have been discontinued for at least 12 months prior to examination. Evaluation will be on a case-by-case basis.

Color vision: Applicants who fail the PIP test must pass the Farnsworth D-15 with no more than one major crossing error. Use of rose-colored lenses (e.g. “X-Chrom”) is not permitted during testing.




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