Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I become a law enforcement officer in South Dakota?

A. There are a few different ways to become a certified law enforcement officer in South Dakota:

  • You can be hired on as an officer with a department. Once you are hired by an agency, that agency will sponsor you at the Law Enforcement Training (LET) Academy at no charge to you or the agency. State statute mandates you attend the Basic Law Enforcement Officer Certification Course within twelve months of your hire date. You must submit the four-page LES form, along with two fingerprint cards, to LET for processing. Once all information and background checks are finalized and minimum standards for certification are met, you will be scheduled for a date to attend a certification course.

  • You can be certified as a reciprocity student. In order to qualify as a reciprocity student, you must be a certified law enforcement officer in another state, or be eligible to be certified in another state, and be able to provide documentation on this standing. If your past training meets, or exceeds, our requirements for training, your past law enforcement training would be accepted as equivalent training. You must also be hired by a South Dakota agency as a law enforcement officer at the time of your request for reciprocity. You must fill out the four-page LES form and fingerprint cards. The next step is to successfully pass a written test. If you pass the test, you will be signed up for a certification course but only be required to attend approximately one and one-half weeks of training. These courses usually include firearms, emergency vehicle operations course (EVOC), South Dakota law, criminal law, traffic law, domestic violence, and proof of completion of ICS 100, 200, and 700.

  • Two technical institutes in South Dakota enjoy reciprocal agreements with the SD Law Enforcement Training Academy. Graduates or students in good standing in the final semester of the Law Enforcement Program at Western Dakota Technical Institute (WDTI) or Southeast Technical Institute (STI) are eligible for reciprocity. Law Enforcement Training may administer a written reciprocity test and skills tests to these students within two years of graduation. Administration and testing fees apply unless the applicant is hired as a law enforcement officer with an agency in South Dakota. If the reciprocity applicant fails the written test they are required to attend and successfully complete the entire Basic Certification Course. If that applicant passes the written test but fails any portion of the skills testing, the applicant will be required to attend and successfully complete that portion of the Basic Certification Course that tests that skill. The Standards and Training Commission will make eligible for certification as a law enforcement officer the applicant who successfully completes written and skills testing. The applicant becomes certified when hired by a sponsoring law enforcement agency within two years of graduation.     

Q. Once I am a certified law enforcement officer in South Dakota, how do I keep my certification?

A. To keep your certification current, you must work as an officer with a law enforcement agency. Once you leave law enforcement, you have 24 months from your last day of employment to keep your certification. If you are not employed in law enforcement for more than 24 months, your certification is no longer valid. If you work as a reserve officer, you may maintain your law enforcement certificate by working at least 96 hours during a 12-month period.
  

Q. How may hours do I need to work as a Reserve Officer to maintain my reserve officer certification?

A. Every certified reserve officer needs to work at least 96 hours during a 12-month period to maintain a level of active duty. No reserve officer can be on duty for more than 30 hours per month unless the local law enforcement agency files a written request to the Law Enforcement Standards and Training Commission explaining a need for more hours.
  

Q. Is there any mandatory in-service training required for law enforcement officers to keep their certification valid?

A. Yes. 

  • Domestic violence training. SDCL 23-3-39.4 mandates domestic violence training on the following issues pertaining to domestic abuse: enforcement of criminal laws in domestic abuse situations; availability of community resources; and protection of the victim. After initial training, an officer shall attend further training at least once every four years.

  • Firearms Requalification. Every law enforcement officer shall requalify with the officer’s duty handgun every year by completing a certified shooting course that is administered by a firearms instructor who has been approved by the Standards and Training Commission or the Law Enforcement Training Administrator. The certified shooting course must be approved by the commission. A law enforcement officer may not qualify or requalify on a noncertified course. A law enforcement officer must obtain a passing score of at least 75%. The requalification is calculated on a calendar year basis. Each officer must have one qualifying score submitted to LET per calendar year.

  • Continuing Education Hours. Administrative rule 2:01:06:17 mandates that each law enforcement officer must complete 40 hours of training in a two year period in the following areas:

    • Annual firearms requalification to include completion of a certified course with a passing course of at least 75%;

    • Continuing education to include completion of courses sponsored by Law Enforcement Training or courses approved and documented by the law enforcement officer’s agency.

  • The continuing education hours are calculated on a calendar year basis. Each officer must have 40 hours of continuing education submitted to LET during the following timeframes:
               7/1/08 – 12/31/10; 1/1/11 – 12/31/12; 1/1/13 – 12/31/14; 1/1/15 – 12/31/16; 1/1/17 – 12/31/18… 

Q. How do I become a private investigator in South Dakota?

A. Law Enforcement Training does not license private investigators in South Dakota. In fact, there is no license required to become a private investigator in South Dakota. All that is required is to obtain a sales tax license. When applying for the license, you should also check with the city and county in the area you plan to work to see if there are any local ordinances you would need to meet or be aware of.
  

Q. How do I become a licensed polygraph examiner in South Dakota?

A. In addition to the licensing requirements in SDCL 36-30-3, you must be at least 21 years of age to receive a license as a polygraph examiner. The applicant must have successfully passed a course of study in a school certified by the American Polygraph Association. If you have not been certified by the American Polygraph Association but have been certified by another association or school, you must submit a copy of your certificate, provide a detailed list of material covered in the training, and grades received from the course. Also, you must not have had an examiner’s license or its equivalent refused, revoked, suspended, or otherwise invalidated. Paperwork to be submitted to LET includes the four-page LES form (pages 1 – 3 only) and a $25 non-refundable application fee. An examiner’s license expires on December 31st of the year it was issued. In order to renew a license already issued, you must submit a one-page renewal form provided by LET and the $25 application fee.

Q. How do I become a commission approved firearms instructor?

A. The Law Enforcement Standards and Training Commission or the LET Training Administrator may authorize an individual to act as a firearms instructor under 2:01:06:17.1, if the person successfully completes the following courses:
  • A law enforcement handgun instructor course which, at a minimum, covers the following topics:

    •  Liability and use of force; safety and basic handgun nomenclature; basic handling and operation of handguns; fundamentals of shooting and remediation of shooting errors; and skill building and test

  • An instructor development course that covers the following topics:

    • Development of a lesson plan; development of teaching objectives; and development of test questions.

    • A person must complete both courses before they are considered for approval as a commission approved firearms instructor. 
Q. Is there a continuing education requirement to maintain my status as a commission approved firearms instructor?
A. Yes. A commission approved firearms instructor must successfully complete a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education. Those 24 hours of continuing education must contain the following topics:
  • Liability and use of force; safety and basic handgun nomenclature; basic handling and operation of handguns; fundamentals of shooting and remediation of shooting errors; and skill building and testing; or development of a lesson plan; development of teaching objectives; and development of test questions.

  • This 24 hours of continuing education must be obtained every four calendar years beginning January 1, 2009. If an instructor fails to meet or maintain this training requirement it will result in suspension of the authorization to act as a commission approved firearms instructor until he/she completes the training and is approved by the commission or LET Administrator.

 Q. What is the Training Grant Program?

A. It is a program set up by the Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission to make grants available to local and state law enforcement agencies for the purpose of training their personnel. These grant funds allow agencies to individualize their training programs to the specific needs of their areas. The grants provide an equal opportunity for law enforcement agencies to compete for training dollars available from the state.

 

Q. Who can apply for a training grant?

A. Grants will be awarded only to governmental agencies (not already receiving direct funds) from the Liquidated Costs Fund. Grants can only be awarded to applicants who use it to train law enforcement officers (as defined by SDCL), dispatchers, and jailers. Training must be open to all qualifying agencies.
  

Q. How do I apply for a grant and how much money is available when I apply?

A. Each applicant must fill out a grant application form and provide all necessary information for the grant to be assessed. The application form may be obtained by calling LET at (605) 773-3584. Grant applications may be made for any amount up to, but not exceeding $10,000. The agency requesting the grant may be required to provide local matching funds. Priority will be given to grants targeting the most essential training reaching the largest audience for the most effective cost expenditure. Grants cannot be used for specialized training for just one officer.  The application form may be obtained by calling LET at (605) 773-3584 or is available on-line.