Renegade Adventure: Taking the LA County deputy sheriff test

Fernanda Martinez, Reporter

Bakersfield College hosted a deputy sheriff testing event for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Jan. 21. LASD conducted a written exam, physical ability test, and a structured interview for applicants, all in one day.

LASD Lt. Joel Barnett stated the main purpose of their recruitment event in Bakersfield was to offer applicants the three tests and receive their score in one day instead of traveling to Los Angeles multiple times to take each test on different days.

Pat Smith, professor of criminal justice at Bakersfield College, stated that the testing event was coordinated to be of great advantage to BC criminal justice majors and other interested individuals around the Bakersfield area.

Around 60 applicants showed up to test at Bakersfield College on Jan. 21, most with some prior knowledge of law enforcement. Then there was me, who showed up knowing nothing about what I was about to get myself into, yet wanted to test my abilities on what it takes to become a deputy sheriff trainee.

I had planned everything out the night before. I was supposed to be in bed by 9 p.m. to ensure that I got a good rest and be up by 5:30 a.m. to have breakfast and arrive at the testing event on time. Yet, since my fears got the best of me, I ended up staying awake until 2 a.m. looking over practice written exams and trying to figure out how to do a successful push-up, but mostly tweeting about how nervous I was.

I got up on time that morning and prepared myself both physically and mentally. On my way to the campus, I was thinking that I was going to make a fool out of myself next to people, mostly males twice my size who could probably do 10 push-ups in five seconds.

When I arrived, I saw both males and females of all shapes and heights, and I was finally able to breathe.

I had to go through the process of actually applying for the job in order to test so I could be on the same page as every other applicant.

The first part of the test was the written exam. We were told that the exam would be a combination of vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing clarity, spelling, grammar, deductive and inductive reasoning, and data interpretation. I was confident about this part because I have always done well with English and was hoping my deductive and inductive reasoning experience with Dr. John Giertz’s rhetoric and argumentation class would kick in.

We took the test and later waited for our results. I was the last one to receive my score, and the whole time I thought it was because I had done so poorly, that they were having a hard time grading it.

I received a slip that said “You have passed the qualifying written test and have been scheduled to participate on the Validated Physical Ability Test.”

Even though I am not a criminal justice major, it personally made me feel happy to know that I was capable of passing the written test.

After that, all the passing applicants were moved to another room where we waited to receive our physical ability test. That’s when I started to get nervous again.

It was a long waiting period, so I decided to talk to some of the recruitment staff to see if I could get a better insight on what was expected of the physical ability test.

Sgt. Louis Serrano Jr. explained that the test was comprised of push-ups, a 75-yard run, arm endurance, sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run. “You don’t have to do 50 push-ups or 200 situps,” he said. “It’s the totality of your score that counts. So for instance, if you do really good on the run, it’ll help you do less on the push-ups.”

My first thought was “No, don’t sign me up for cardio.” Yet, I felt a bit more confident on the physical test after learning how it was scored. I still kept in mind, however, that I needed to give it my all in order to receive the best possible score.

Deputy Sheriff Donald Nelson explained that the test was designed to see if applicants have a balance with cardio, muscular and abdominal strength, and endurance. “The running part of the test, for example, tests if you are able to run after someone without giving up,” he said, “if you do not have the ability to keep running, then there is no point in chasing a guy if you are going to let him get away from you.”

My group was the last to go out and take the physical ability test. The first thing was the push-up test. A water bottle was placed underneath us and our chest had to touch the bottle in order for the push-up to count.

I did zero push-ups, and I’ll say it loud and proud that my noodle arms have no strength whatsoever.

To save myself from some more embarrassment, I will not give more details about how I am not in the best physical condition at this moment.

By this point, as you can imagine, I did not pass the physical ability test.

Since I did not pass this section, I was not able to continue on and advance to the interview. No, I am not ashamed, and I am genuinely content that I was able to experience this.

I am a journalism major, and I am not interested in becoming a deputy sheriff, but I learned a lot about myself and the importance of being well-educated in other areas.

I know now that knowing how to do even the most basic things, like spelling and doing a sit-up, can be of great advantage in other things that I encounter in life. If someone randomly comes up to me and tries to harm me, I know that it is important to have arm endurance so I can fight this person back.

I know now that proper writing, spelling, and grammar are not only essential in my area of interest, journalism, but also in other areas like law enforcement.

I am happy with my experience and the things I learned. If later down the road my career as a journalist does not turn out the way I planned, I know I personally have the potential to get into law enforcement with proper training, and if I set my mind to it.

For more information on the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, you can visit their website at or contact them at [email protected]