Should You Charge a Fee for Police Department Applications?


Charging a nominal fee for applications is a fairly common practice for police departments across the country, but not everyone is convinced it’s a good idea.

Police departments in the Northeast and Midwest commonly charge applicants a fee from $20-$100, depending on the area, but only about 50% of police departments in the South charge application fees.

Why the reluctance to charge fees? Here are some of the objections we hear:

  • It’s hard enough to get applicants to apply for law enforcement—a fee will just make it worse.
  • No departments in my area charge fees.
  • Applicants will never apply if there is a fee.
  • A fee excludes lower-income candidates from applying.

We understand your concerns, which is why we want to let you know the truth about charging application fees. In fact, not only will charging a fee not hurt your recruitment efforts, it can actually improve them! Here’s why:

The Benefits of Charging Application Fees

Better Candidates: By charging an application fee, departments can expect to receive applications from candidates who are more serious about becoming police officers, and more qualified to get hired. Some people apply to police department jobs on a whim, or to prove to the Unemployment Office that they are trying to get a job. A small fee will deter those non-committed applicants, but not the ones who are truly interested in becoming police officers.

Cost and Time Savings: Weeding out less-serious applicants saves the department the time and trouble of reviewing applications that will never turn into an offer, and lets departments reallocate those recruitment costs to other areas to benefit the department, such as safety equipment, officer training,  retention programs, community policing efforts, and more. 

The Ability to Waive Fees: For those who truly can’t afford to pay the application fee, PoliceApp offers an easy to use fee waiver, which can even be automated.

A Robust System for Candidates: By paying the application fee, candidates get access to the unparalleled convenience and tracking abilities offered by Candidates have access to a mobile-friendly app that can be accessed anywhere from any type of device, and that offers helpful features including customized job searches, application auto-fill, email and text tracking and alerts, secure online payment processing, and a single sign-on to track submissions, test registration, emails and test scores.

Still not convinced? Let your colleagues eliminate your concerns! The quotes below are from PoliceApp users who had the same reservations as you. After deciding to start charging application fees, here’s what they have to say:

  • “We have found that the quality of the candidates has increased dramatically and that the individuals that apply are less likely to "no show" for a testing. We had individuals apply for free through Indeed or other websites who had no intention of actually appearing for the rest of the process. We were skeptical at first and concerned about the fee, but it never materialized as an issue and now the only way to apply for our positions is through”  Hanover, NH
  • “At first our agency had the same concerns as you, charging a fee for people to apply. However, the benefits most certainly outweigh the negatives and there has been very little negative feedback if any for the past 3 1/2 years.” Carroll County Sheriffs, MD
  • “Charging a fee did not negatively impact our application pool or the amount of applications received. For those individuals with low income, we used the built in fee waiver feature with PoliceApp.” Ashland, VA
  • “The fee charged by is nominal and usually absorbed by candidates without question or comment.”  Lincoln, NH

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