Frequently Asked Questions
If you have additional questions not covered below, please call (605) 773-3584.
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.
Three 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), Southeast Technical Institute (STI), or Lake Area Tech (LATI) 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?
- 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 ï¿½ 12/31/10; 1/1/11 ï¿½ 12/31/12; 1/1/13 ï¿½ 12/31/14; 1/1/15 ï¿½ 12/31/16; 1/1/17 ï¿½ 12/31/18ï¿½
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.
Q. How do I become a school sentinel?
A. Any school board may create, establish, and supervise the arming of school employees, hired security personnel, or volunteers in such manner and according to such protocols as the board may believe to be most likely to secure or enhance the deterrence of physical threat and defense of the school, its students, its staff, and members of the public on the school premises against violent attack. Those so authorized shall be referred to as school sentinels.
- Before any school board may implement any school sentinel program pursuant to Â§ 13-64-1, or effect any material changes in the personnel or protocols of the school sentinel program, the school board shall obtain the approval of the law enforcement official who has jurisdiction over the school premises. Any material changes in the school sentinel program's personnel or protocols shall be reported to all law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over the school premises forthwith.
- Any person who acts as a school sentinel, pursuant to Â§ 13-64-1, shall first successfully complete a school sentinel training course as defined by the Law Enforcement Officers Standards Commission pursuant to subdivision 23-3-35(16).
- The school board may submit a person for school sentinel training only if the person meets the following requirements:
- (1) Is a citizen of the United States;
- (2) Is at least 21 years of age at time of appointment;
- (3) Has fingerprints taken by a qualified law enforcement officer;
- (4) Is of good moral character;
- (5) Is a graduate of an accredited high school or has a high school equivalency certificate acceptable to the commission;
- (6) Is examined by a licensed physician who certifies, on forms prescribed by the commission, that the applicant is able to perform the duties of a school sentinel;
- (7) Is interviewed in person by the school board or its designee and approved by the school board to apply to the school sentinel basic training course;
- (8) Has received written approval to apply to the school sentinel basic training course by all local law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over the school premises in which the individual will act as a school sentinel;
- (9) Has not unlawfully used any prescribed drug, controlled substance, or marijuana within one year before the time of application for training; and
- (10) Has a valid concealed weapons permit.
- To submit an individual for the school sentinel basic training course, the local school board shall complete the school sentinel training application provided by the law enforcement training office and return the application with two sets of the fingerprint cards required by subdivision 2:01:15:01(3).
- A school board may resubmit an application for an individual who has failed to successfully complete the school sentinel basic sentinel training course, or has been dismissed from the program under Â§ 2:01:16:09, after one year.
- A school sentinel's training certificate of completion issued under Â§ 2:01:16:01 expires on the last day of the twelfth calendar month following the issuance date on the certificate, unless the school sentinel completes the continuing educational requirements in Â§Â§ 2:01:16:10 and 2:01:16:11.
- The basic training course for a school sentinel consists of a curriculum of at least 80 hours of training and includes the following subject areas:
- (1) Firearms proficiency;
- (2) Use of force;
- (3) Legal aspects;
- (4) Weapons retention;
- (5) Weapons storage;
- (6) Identifying protocol for identifying sentinel; and
- (7) First aid
- An applicant, to successfully complete the basic training course, must receive a passing score on all written and skills examinations administered in connection with the course. The executive secretary, at the direction of the commission, shall establish rules of internal management setting forth the passing score for each examination. The executive secretary shall, prior to the commencement of the training course, notify applicants of the level of performance that constitutes a passing score for each examination. An applicant may retake the examination within seven days of failing. An applicant may not take an examination more than twice. The executive secretary may, for cause, allow an applicant to retake an examination at other times.
- The executive secretary may enforce restrictions and rules of internal management as are necessary to maintain the orderly instruction of individuals and efficient operation of the school sentinel basic training course. Individuals must comply with such restrictions and rules as set forth by the executive secretary in the basic training course student handbook, or such other specific directives as the executive secretary may issue.
- The executive secretary may dismiss, from the school sentinel basic training course, any person who violates any restrictions or rule established by the executive secretary to administer or maintain order during the basic training course.
- To maintain training as a school sentinel beyond twelve months from the date on the certificate, a school sentinel must complete eight hours of annual training in the following areas:
- (1) Annual firearms requalification as provided in Â§ 2:01:16:11; and
- (2) Continuing education to include completion of courses sponsored by law enforcement training or courses approved and documented by the school sentinel's school board in subject areas listed in Â§ 2:01:16:02.
- The training hours are calculated annually. A written report containing the name of school sentinel, signed by the school board chair or designee, certifying that the school sentinel has successfully completed the continuing educational requirements and firearms requalification, shall be submitted by the local school board to the executive secretary no later than January 25th of each year following the original certification date. The local school board shall maintain training records and make them available for inspection by the commission, through the office of law enforcement training.
- Each school sentinel shall requalify with the school sentinel's duty handgun each calendar year by completing a certified shooting course that is administered by a firearms instructor who has been approved by the commission or the executive secretary in accordance with Â§ 2:01:06:17.05. A certified shooting course is a course approved by the commission. A school sentinel may not qualify or requalify on a noncertified course. A school sentinel must obtain a passing score of at least 75 percent.