How to Become a Hospital Police Officer for Mental Health in California

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California Department of Mental Health police officers may be assigned to any one of the five mental health hospitals in the state. Officers deal directly with the mentally ill and assist hospital personnel in subduing extremely combative patients. Officers are also responsible for patrolling facility grounds, enforcing agency policies, making arrests and testifying in court. Job candidates must complete an examination issued by the Department of Mental Health. Candidates can take the exam once every 12 months. The department sets the times and locations.

  • Pass a criminal background check. Most applicants who have been convicted of a felony will not be considered for the position of mental health officer.

  • Submit a standard state applicant employment form at any of the five California mental hospitals. Eligibility status records will be maintained at the facility where they are submitted. All applications must include past employment start and end dates, as well as civil service class dates, if applicable.

  • Pass the California mental health officers examination. Candidates must answer at least 70 percent of the answers correctly on the written exam, which tests memory and observation skills. It also tests reading comprehension, writing abilities and the ability to respond quickly in an emergency.

  • Pass a drug test, a psychological screening and a medical examination. An employment background investigation will also be conducted by Department of Mental Health officials.

  • Complete the California Department of Mental Health hospital orientation and the training officer program. The training officer program includes a 64-hour arrest and firearms course, also known as the Penal Code 832 course.

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