Reserve Police Officer

Currently, over 90 talented men and women are serving as reserve police officers and we are seeking to expand our ranks by actively recruiting new members into the Reserve Corps. The Reserve Corps has made significant contributions to law enforcement and crime prevention throughout the District of Columbia and this nationally-recognized program allows you to keep your full-time career while participating in the Reserve Corp. 

We are looking for dedicated, community-oriented individuals to serve alongside MPD career officers in our mission to serve and protect the citizens and visitors of Washington, DC. MPD invites you to explore the opportunities offered by the Reserve Corps and consider applying for this truly unique volunteer experience.

Reserve Police Officers receive world-class training which mirrors that of a career officer and emerge as sworn, armed Police Reserve Officer that work in our Patrol Services or specialized patrol functions.  

Duties & Responsibilities

The three levels of Reserve Officer in the corps include General Reserve Officer, Reserve Officer Level II and Reserve Officer Level I. In today’s corps, all recruits go through an intensive firearms training class and begin their service as Level II Reserve Officers and remain at this level until they have successful completed an officer field training course and become certified as competent by their district chain of command. Once certified a Level II Reserve Officer then becomes a Level I Certified Officer.  Current General Reserve Officers are unarmed officers who started with the Reserve Corps when firearms training was not provided for each reserve recruit class.

Some of the duties and authorities that come with these positions will differ depending on if the reserve officer is armed or unarmed as outlined below.

Level II (Armed)

Duties and Authorities

  • Perform all duties and responsibilities of a sworn officer, pursuant to applicable department directives and policies under close supervision (patrolling with Level I Reserve or Career member)
  • Issue civil Notices of Infraction (NOIs) for moving traffic violations
  • Carry and utilize a Department-issued firearm
  • Carry out other assigned element duties and responsibilities commensurate with the Reserve Corps member's qualifications and training, as approved by the element commanding official or his/her designee in accordance with the provisions in the Department’s General Order.

Level I (Armed)

Duties and Authorities

  • Perform all duties and responsibilities of a sworn officer, pursuant to applicable department directives and policies under general supervision (may patrol alone)
  • Issue civil Notices of Infraction (NOIs) for moving traffic violations
  • Carry and utilize a Department-issued firearm


MPD is a force composed of the city’s finest. To qualify for the position of Reserve Police Officer, you must:

  • Be a US citizen at the time of application
  • Be 21 years of age (mandatory separation by 64 years of age)
  • Meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • Successful completion of at least sixty (60) semester-hour credits or the semester-hour equivalent from an an accredited post-secondary educational institution; or
    • Have served in the Armed Forces of the United States, including the Organized Reserves and National Guard, for at least two (2) years on active duty and, if separated from the military, have received an honorable discharge; or
    • Have served at least three (3) years in a full-duty status with a full-service police department in a municipality or a state within the United States, and have resigned or retired in good standing. 
  • Possess a valid driver’s license that is not under suspension or revocation from the jurisdiction of residence
  • Possess at least 20/100 vision, correctable to 20/30 in both eyes 
  • Pass the sworn officer written entrance test
  • Pass a physical ability test
  • Submit to a polygraph examination
  • Pass a medical examination and psychological examination, including a drug-screening test, based upon sworn officer standards.
  • Possess a high moral character for carrying out law enforcement duties


The Reserve Corps  established the Reserve Corps Focused Initiative (RCFI) to support the Department by targeting high-priority areas in a designated District on rotating Friday or Saturday evenings. The RCFI events continue once per month to date. The RCFIs are proving to be very attractive duties for our members and are contributing to crime reduction and increased police visibility throughout the District of Columbia.  Ordinarily 10-15 reserve members will come in service to provide a high-visibility patrol.  Members are instrumental in reducing crime rates, making arrests, and providing additional community relation functions.

Visit the following pages to learn more about the Reserve Corps:

Selection Process


Complete an interest card.


Attend a New Candidate Orientation.


Complete the Personal History Statement through our online system “eSOPH” to begin the background investigation process (criminal checks, references, employment, social media checks, etc.).


You will attend an in-person MPD Prospect Day, during which you will take part in the following events:

  • Body Fat Screening
  • Physical Ability Test
  • Document Screening
  • Fingerprinting and Photograph
  • All candidates who successfully complete the four components above will then complete their National Testing Network FrontLine National Written Exam at 1 pm.

NOTE: Candidates who have previously taken the FrontLine National Written Exam, within one year, at any testing location are exempt from retaking the examination on MPD Prospect Day.

All Reserve Corps applicants will be issued a voucher at MPD Prospect Day to cover the cost of the exam.


Take a polygraph examination.


Undergo a comprehensive background investigation.


Submit to a medical and psychological evaluation and undergo a comprehensive background investigation.


Receive MPD review and approval.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the next Academy class?

Ordinarily, the Metropolitan Police Department starts a Reserve Police Academy each spring.  Depending on the number of applicants, a fall class may also be started. If you are considering joining the Department as a Reserve Police Officer submit an interest card to learn more and begin the application process.

What is the difference between serving as a Reserve Officer and an Entry-Level Officer?

Reserve Police Officers are volunteers.  Members of the Reserve Corps serve in patrol-related capacities, typically are armed members and are expected to volunteer at least 24 hours per month.  Entry-level officers are full time employees and receive compensation for their service.  While on the street both Reserve Police Officers and career Entry Level Officers have the same duties.  

What are the expenses associated with becoming a volunteer officer?

There are no formal expenses to join the Reserve Corps. All initial application costs are covered by the Department. During training all required uniform and equipment items are furnished to each member at no cost (except for under garments and boots).  Upon graduation from the training academy there are no further costs. The Department does not reimburse members for travel to and from their duty assignments; however, while on duty the Department covers all costs associated with a member’s volunteer service.

Does MPD provide insurance or other benefits in case I am hurt while volunteering?

In the unexpected and unfortunate case a Reserve Corps member is injured in the line of duty, all Reserve Corps members are covered by the District of Columbia’s workman’s compensation program.

How often do I have to serve if I join the Reserve Corps?

The Reserve Corps is a volunteer organization. Upon completion of the intensive training and field training programs, armed members are expected to volunteer at least 24 hours per month.  Unarmed members are expected to volunteer at least 16 hours per month.  Many of our volunteers go well above and beyond the minimum expectations as they enjoy providing voluntary service to the Washington, DC community.

Do I have to testify if I make an arrest? I have a full-time job that would make it difficult to appear during the day.

Yes.  As a sworn police officer in the District of Columbia, you are required to comply with all mandatory court appearances (i.e., papering, preliminary hearings, and trials). Each applicant should consider their full time employment when deciding whether the Reserve Corps is right for them.  

Are there any differences in the uniform that Reserve members wear?

Reserve Corps members are issued identical equipment to their career service counterparts.

Can Reserve members drive MPD vehicles and use other Department resources?

Yes. Reserve Corps officers are fully trained sworn police officers in the District of Columbia.  

What is the culture like within the Reserve Corps?

The Reserve Corps maintains a positive culture dedicated to volunteer service. Members contribute considerable portions of their time to help strengthen the police department and the Washington, DC community.  The best way to understand the Reserve Corps’ culture is to come to a New Candidate Orientation or do a ride-along with one of our 90+ members.  

Do I get to choose where I can patrol as a Reserve member?

Each Reserve Corps member can request their top three police district preferences at the time of graduation.  Although consideration is given to each member’s preference, ultimately the location of assignment is determined by the Department based upon operational needs. 

August 6, 1861, Congress passed an Act which declared the boundaries of DC to constitute...

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...a police district to be called the “Metropolitan Police District”. The newly elected President, Abraham Lincoln presided over the creation of this new police department. Washington, DC was divided into 10 precincts; each headed by a sergeant with 150 privates divided among the precincts. An officer’s salary was $480 a year and they had to be at least 5 feet 6 inches tall, able to read and write, between the age of 25 and 45, and were required to provide their own guns.

March, 1865 – MPD handled their first Presidential Inauguration...

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...MPD intercepted John Wilkes Booth during his first attempt to assassinate President Lincoln at the inauguration of Lincoln’s second term.

In 1890 women were officially hired as Matrons which handled female prisoners and children...

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...In 1917, the Women’s Bureau of the MPD was created in order to give women a more active role in investigating. The Bureau became nationally recognized for its proactive ideas and methods.

In 1913, the Department purchased the first motorized vehicles (10 motorcycles) to assist the...

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...bicycle squads and by 1914, five “motor patrol” wagons were purchased. In 1915, the first police school was established to train officers in using their firearms and basic first aid.

In 1934 the first Metropolitan Police Boys Club was established The club was designed to...

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...keep young men out of trouble and provide them with positive role models, and the club still exists today as the MPD Boys and Girls Clubs. The club was such a success that other cities quickly followed in the footsteps of the MPD.

In November 1948, the Metropolitan Police Reserve Corps was established and...

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...first deployed on October 31, 1951 with the original responsibility to guard fire alarm boxes to prevent people from mischievously sounding fire alarms on Halloween Night.

In 1951 the Chief, Robert V. Murray established an Internal Investigations...

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...Division during his tenure.

In 1962 Officers began to patrol and monitor traffic in a private helicopter.

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In 1966 the first cadet class graduated. 

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May 1-4, 1971, “May Day” when over 50,000 demonstrators came to Washington to...

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...force the closure of the Government. This was the largest mass arrest in history with a total of 12,000 people arrested. Due to the professionalism and effectiveness of the MPD, there were no serious injuries to police officers or protestors, no use of deadly force, and very few complaints of misconduct.

In 1978, Burtell M. Jefferson became the first African American Chief of Police....

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...He was a very community minded person, having been a native of Washington DC and having attended American University and Howard University. His tenure saw a reduction in crime while also dealing with restrictions due to the energy crisis and threats of personnel cuts.

In 1988, the Department switched from the long issued Smith and Wesson .38 caliber...

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...revolvers to the Glock 9mm pistols after Washington DC was named the Nation’s Murder Capital.

In 1993 the Office of Internal Affairs was created by Chief Fred Thomas to promote...

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...accountability among MPD officers.

In 1997, Chief Soulsby authorized the re-striping of the Scout Cars...

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...They were changed from the blue stripe and gold seal of the 1960s, to a red and blue striping that is still referred to as the Pepsi can design.

In 2004, the re-birth of the Air Support Unit (aka helicopter patrol, Helicopter Branch) was...

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...returned (original disbanded in 1996 due to budget cuts) along with a small cadre of horse-mounted officers.

In 2006, the joint Police and Fire Communications Center moved to a newly built state of...

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...the art communications center located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue in Southeast.

In January 2007, Chief Cathy Lanier was appointed by Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty... 

Learn More January 2007, replacing outgoing Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. She was the first woman to achieve the position of Chief of Police in Washington DC.  In May 2012, Mayor Vincent C. Gray agreed to retain Lanier as police chief under his mayoral term.  Chief Lanier lead the Metropolitan Police Department until she retired 2017.  Chief Lanier was a great advocate for women in law enforcement and brought great technological changes to the MPD.  She was well known for her passionate involvement with the community.

In 2007-08, Chief Lanier initiated; patrol districts listserv; "Neighborhood...

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...Safety Zone” the replacement of in-car systems equipped with GPS.

On the morning of Monday, September 16, 2013, Aaron Alexis entered... 

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...Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard, where he served as an independent contractor, and carried out the most deadly workplace mass shooting in the Nation’s Capital in recent memory.  Over the course of 69 minutes, Alexis terrorized thousands of employees of Naval Sea Systems Command, firing indiscriminately from a shotgun he had legally purchased two days earlier and a handgun he had taken from a security guard after mortally wounding the guard.  He would also get into multiple shooting engagements with responding law enforcement officers, seriously injuring a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer.  In his final confrontation with police, Alexis ambushed and fired upon another MPD officer.  Fortunately, the officer was saved by his protective vest and was able to return fire, killing Alexis and ending his rampage.  When it was over, Alexis had shot and killed twelve people and injured several others.

Chief Peter Newsham was confirmed as the Chief of Police on May 3, 2017. 

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Chief Peter Newsham joined the MPD in 1989 and rose quickly through the ranks, serving in a number of district operational assignments. Chief Charles H. Ramsey promoted him to Commander of the Second District in January 2000. In June 2002, Newsham was promoted to Assistant Chief in charge of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Chief Newsham was sworn in as the 30th police chief for the MPD on May 3, 2017. Chief Newsham holds a bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross and a law degree at the University of Maryland School of Law. He is a member of the Maryland Bar.

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