Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Justice

I want to become a peace officer in the state of Texas — what must I do?
To become a peace officer, you must successfully complete the Basic Peace Officer Course, pass the TCOLE state exam, be hired by a law enforcement agency and become licensed by TCOLE.

What is TCOLE?
TCOLE stands for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. TCOLE is the licensing agency for peace officers in the state of Texas. All individuals desiring to be a peace officer in the state of Texas must be certified through TCOLE and comply with TCOLE standards.

What must I do to be licensed?
You must successfully complete the Basic Peace Officer training course established by TCOLE, pass the state certification and become a member of a law enforcement agency.

How do I get the required training?
The Basic Peace Officer training is available through the Eastfield Criminal Justice Training Center (Police Academy).

How do I enroll?
The first step is to download an Eastfield Academy enrollment packet. Once you have downloaded the packet, follow the oulined instructions and requirements. Then download and complete the Academy enrollment forms (Adobe Reader recommended). Please return the completed forms to the Building W, Room 101.

Processing and completing all steps of the enrollment process can take up to six weeks and must be completed prior to the application deadline and registration for academy classes.

Does the Basic Peace Officer Training qualify for financial aid or veteran’s benefits?
Yes, you should contact the Veterans Office at 972-860-8346 or the Financial Aid Office at 972-860-8385.

I currently have a professional college degree. Do I have to take the Basic Peace Officer Course?
Yes, regardless of your educational background, you are required to successfully complete the Basic Peace Officer course and pass the TCOLE certification examination. PhD’s, MD’s, dentists, engineers and others have completed the program.

What is the TCOLE state certification examination?
After finishing the Basic Peace Officer course, you are required to take and pass the TCOLE certification examination with a score of 70 percent. You have three (3) chances to pass the examination. Should you not pass in three (3) attempts, you must repeat the Basic Peace Officer course to sit for the state examination.

What is the Exit Examination?
The Exit Examination is an exclusive Eastfield process to prepare you for the state certification examination. When all phases of training have been completed, you will receive a review over the material in the Basic Peace Officer course. You will be tested each day over the previous day’s work. At the completion of the review, you will take the 300-question exit examination. Under the Eastfield Criminal Justice rules, you must score 85 percent to receive eligibility to take the state exam.

What if I don’t pass the Exit Examination?
As in the state examination, you have three chances to take the Exit Examination.  If you should not pass on the third attempt, you will need to repeat the course.

How old must I be to enroll?
You must be 21 years of age to enroll.

Is there a maximum age?
No; however, you must take and pass a medical physical examination (documented) related to the tasks that an officer would perform. Anyone over 35 years of age is limited to departments that are not state civil service.

Do I have to be a high school graduate?
TCOLE requires one of the following for enrollment:

  • High school diploma
  • GED
  • Honorable discharge from the armed forces of the United States after at least 24 months of active service.
  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

Online high school will not be accepted. All options must be documented.

Do I have to go through a criminal background check?
Yes, TCOLE requires a criminal background check through the National & Texas Crime Records Center. This criminal background check is valid for 90 days. This process is conducted through Eastfield, TCOLE and the Department of Public Safety. Your fingerprints will be taken and submitted electronically to DPS. This process can take anywhere from 10–14 working days. TCOLE will notify us of your status. We (Eastfield Criminal Justice) will contact you about your status. If you are disqualified, you can contact the Department of Public Safety Records for further information.

What are the qualifications on criminal background?
See the Enrollment Standards page.

I have a Jailer, CHL, Private Security license; do I have to go through a background check?
Yes, all potential students must have a background check. It is a mandatory requirement by TCOLE, and all background checks are valid for 90 days.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen?
Yes, this must be documented by birth certificate, U.S. Passport and Naturalization Certificate. Other documents may be considered and verified. (See the Enrollment Standards page.)

Do I have to have a sponsor?
No, you do not, provided you meet enrollment requirements. However, there are sponsored students, and it does help with the screening process.

Do I have to take a reading/writing pre-enrollment examination?
Yes; however, if you can document three college credit hours in freshman college English with a grade of "C" or better from a regionally accredited college or university, you may be exempt from the examination. If not, you must take the examination, and you must score at a college freshman reading level to be eligible to enroll. If you do not meet that standard, it is recommended that you take remedial reading.

Are there costs associated with enrolling in the program?
Yes. The TSI will cost $10 for each section and for additional testing after the first attempt. The fingerprinting costs are approximately $45. The medical physical/drug screen will cost approximately $150, and the physiological evaluation is approximately $150.

How much does the course cost?
The course consists of five payment installments. Refer to the current schedule for amounts. Tuition for the first phase must be paid prior to the course starting. Additional expenses for duty gear, books, ammunition, supplies and uniforms can cost approximately $1,000.

What are the times of the classes?
Eastfield's Criminal Justice (LEA) Training Center offers two different paths or options for the training:

  • Full-day class, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MTWRF
  • Half-day evening class, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. MTWRF

I am from out of state and was a licensed officer in that state. I want to become licensed in Texas. What should I do?

  • First, call the TCOLE office in Austin at 512-936-7700. Advise them that you are an out-of-state officer.
  • You will have to take TCOLE course 1018, and they will advise of other requirements. Eastfield does offer the 1018 course through the academy.

I have allowed my license to lapse; how do I get it reinstated?
Call the TCOLE office in Austin at 512-936-7700. They can advise you on what you will need to accomplish the reinstatement.

Will I get college credit for the course?

There are two (2) options to attain credit:

  • When you pass the state certification examination, you can apply through the Eastfield Criminal Justice credit program. Contact Pat Patterson at 972-860-7355. Dallas College does have a rule in place requiring you to have six college hours — you can discuss this with Mr. Patterson.
  • When you pass the state certification examination, you can apply through Rio Salado College ​for college credit.

What should I buy before class?
Do not purchase anything. The first class day is orientation, and you’ll be told what you need and when you will need it. We hope this will help you budget and will keep you from buying unnecessary items.

Will I be required to do Physical Training?
Yes. You will be given a pretest to determine your physical capabilities. At the conclusion of the training, you will be retested to determine your progress.