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As a copper from out of state that returned 10 years ago I can tell you that the system here is convoluted and political. If the city/town you are interested in is civil service then you MUST take the exam first. Your training/experience/background will not come into play until much later when the city/town decides to appoint. For example, if a city/town utilizes an intermittent or reserve list then they can appoint from that list as they wish AND at that moment your academy training could come into play. Most politicians understand that it is far cheaper to hire someone with the academy than someone completely green. In the meantime to garner the police experience look for a non-civil service job or a good college to work at until your preferred city/town comes through. Take a deep breath because it could be awhile.
 
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