Law enforcement is a demanding profession in which police officers risk their lives daily in order to protect the property, lives, and civil rights of others. Today’s police officer needs to be ready in body and mind to accept the daily challenges of the job.

Officers must be able to respond quickly to crime scenes, conduct searches, make arrests, investigate crimes, handle crowds, mediate domestic disputes, use reasonable force when necessary to defend themselves or others, and relate to a diverse community in Washington, DC.

In order to ensure that sworn officers of the Metropolitan Police Department are ready to serve effectively in the Nation’s Capital, applicants must pass a Physical Ability Test. The Physical Ability Test has been designed to test the ability of applicants to perform physical tasks that are essential to carrying out the duties and responsibilities of a police officer.

The Physical Ability Test events are based on a study of essential work tasks performed by police officers in the Metropolitan Police Department. The study revealed that officers must be able to pursue, subdue, and arrest individuals, climb stairs, run, dodge obstacles, drag persons and objects, climb over and under obstacles, and operate a firearm safely. These are the tasks that are simulated in the Physical Ability Test. The skills that you must demonstrate in the test are skills that do not require prior experience as a police officer.

The Physical Ability Test consists of eight different events. The test simulates chasing a single suspect on foot, and encountering circumstances that could arise during the foot pursuit. The first seven events must be completed within one minute and twenty eight seconds. The eighth event is a separate event and is not timed.

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Event One

Patrol Car: Suspect Description

To begin the test, you will sit in the driver’s seat of a patrol car with the doors closed and the seat belt secured. A test monitor will sit on the passenger side and ask you if you are ready to begin. The monitor will then play an audiotape which will instruct you to pursue a fictitious fleeing suspect who is wearing a particular colored shirt. You will then be told to “GO” by the test monitor. Timing begins after the word “go.” You are to unlatch your seat belt, open the car door, exit the car, and proceed to the gymnasium to Event # 2. You may leave the car door open.


Event Two

Obstacle Run

After you enter the gymnasium, you will weave around a number of traffic cones that have been set up in a single vertical line. You must go around each cone separately. You must not jump over any cones. If you knock any cones down, keep moving. You will then proceed across the gym floor to a set of stairs.


Event Three

Stair Climb

You will proceed up two flights of stairs, cross the platform at the top of the stairs, and then go back down the other two flights of stairs. You may ascend or descend the stairs one or more at a time and you may use the railing while going up and down. For your safety, you are not permitted to jump from one flight of stairs to another.


Event Four

Suspect Drag

You will then proceed to a “dummy”, which weighs approximately 165 pounds. You may drag the dummy by grabbing the handle on the upper torso of the dummy and walking forwards or backwards. You may also carry the dummy, or partially carry and drag the dummy. Be sure to choose the approach that is best and safest for you. You must drag the dummy approximately twenty-five (25) feet. The dummy’s feet must completely pass through a double set of orange cones, which are placed about 10 yards away from the start point of the event.


Event Five

Barricade Duck

You will then proceed to two tables that are placed together lengthwise. You must crawl under the tables. If you upend the tables, you should still continue with the test.


Event Six

Fence Climb

You will proceed to a chain-link fence which is approximately six feet high and eight feet wide. You must climb over the fence in the center section. You may not hold on to the outer poles for support. For safety reasons, you may want to climb over the fence by placing your feet in the links. You will be permitted as many attempts to climb the fence as you need, up until the time limit for the test expires.


Event Seven

Suspect Identification

After climbing the fence, you will proceed to a table at which are seated four “suspects” who are dressed differently. You will pick up the tag belonging to the suspect who matches the description given to you while you were sitting in the patrol car. You will then place the tag on a table located just past the finish line. Timing stops when you cross the finish line. Once you cross the finish line, you may not go back and repeat any of the prior events.


Event Eight

Weapon Dry Fire

After you cross the finish line, you will pick up a service weapon and dry fire the weapon one time with each hand. You must hold the weapon with both hands, arms extended. This event is not timed. You must successfully fire the weapon once with each hand.

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MPD Physical Ability Test Schematic

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