17C-10. Required standards.

(a) Criminal justice officers shall not be required to meet any requirement of subsections (b) and (c) of this section as a condition of continued employment, nor shall failure of any such criminal justice officer to fulfill such requirements make him ineligible for any promotional examination for which he is otherwise eligible if the criminal justice officer held a permanent appointment prior to June 1, 1986, and is an officer, supervisor or administrator of a local confinement facility; prior to March 15, 1973, and is a sworn law enforcement officer with power of arrest; prior to January 1, 1974, and is a State adult correctional officer; prior to July 1, 1975, and is a State probation/parole officer; prior to July 1, 1974, and is a State youth services officer; prior to January 15, 1980, and is a State probation/parole intake officer, prior to April 1, 1983, and is a State parole case analyst; prior to December 14, 1983, and is a State probation/parole officer-surveillance; or prior to February 1, 1987, and is a State probation/parole intensive officer.

The legislature finds, and it is declared to be the policy of this Article, that such criminal justice officers have satisfied such entry level requirements by their experience. It is the intent of the Chapter that all criminal justice officers employed at the entry level after the Commission has adopted the required standards shall meet the requirements of this Article. All criminal justice officers who are exempted from the required entry level standards by this subsection shall be subject thereafter to the requirements of subsections (b) and (c) of this section as well as the requirements of G.S. 17C-6(a) in order to retain certification.

If any criminal justice officer exempted from the required standards by this provision fails to serve as a criminal justice officer for a 12-month period, said officer shall be required to comply with the required entry level standards established by the Commission pursuant to the authority otherwise granted in this section and in G.S. 17C-6(a).

(b) The Commission shall provide, by regulation, for a period of probationary employment and certification for criminal justice officers. The Commission may prescribe such training requirements as are required for the award of either probationary or permanent certification of officers, in addition to the pre-employment requirements authorized in G.S. 17C-6(a). Any criminal justice officer appointed on a temporary or probationary basis who does not comply with the training provisions of this Article is not authorized to exercise the powers of a criminal justice officer to include the power of arrest. If, however, a criminal justice officer has enrolled in a Commission-approved preparatory program of training that concludes later than the end of the officer's probationary period, and the Commission does not require such training to be completed prior to the award of probationary certification, the Commission may extend, for good cause shown, the probationary period for a period not to exceed six months.

Upon separation of a criminal justice officer from a criminal justice agency within the prescribed period of temporary or probationary appointment, the officer's probationary certification shall be terminated by the Commission. Upon the reappointment to the same agency or appointment to another criminal justice agency of an officer who has separated from an agency within the probationary period, the officer shall be charged with the cumulative amount of time served during his initial or subsequent appointments and allowed the remainder of the probationary period to complete the Commission's requirements. Upon reappointment to the same agency or appointment to another agency of an officer who has separated from an agency within the probationary period and who has remained out of service for more than one year after the date of separation, the officer shall be allowed another probationary period to satisfy the Commission's requirements.

(c) In addition to the requirements of subsection (b) of this section, the Commission, by rules and regulations, shall fix other qualifications for the employment, training, and retention of criminal justice officers including minimum age, education, physical and mental standards, citizenship, good moral character, experience, and such other matters as relate to the competence and reliability of persons to assume and discharge the responsibilities of criminal justice officers. The Commission shall prescribe the means for presenting evidence of fulfillment of these requirements. The Commission shall require the administration of a psychological screening examination, including a face-to-face, in-person interview conducted by a licensed psychologist, to determine the criminal justice officer's psychological suitability to properly fulfill the responsibilities of the criminal justice officer. If face-to-face, in-person is not practicable, the face-to-face evaluation can be virtual as long as both the audio and video allow for a professional clinical evaluation in a clinical environment. The psychological screening examination shall be given (i) prior to the initial certification or (ii) prior to the criminal justice officer performing any action requiring certification by the Commission.

Where minimum educational standards are not met, yet the individual shows potential and a willingness to achieve the standards by extra study, they may be waived by the Commission for the reasonable amount of time it will take to achieve the standards required. Such an educational waiver shall not exceed 12 months.

(d) The Commission may issue a certificate evidencing satisfaction of the requirements of subsections (b) and (c) of this section to any applicant who presents such evidence as may be required by its rules and regulations of satisfactory completion of a program or course of instruction in another jurisdiction equivalent in content and quality to that required by the Commission for approved criminal justice education and training programs in this State. (1971, c. 963, s. 1; 1979, c. 763, s. 1; 1981, c. 8; c. 400; 1983, c. 745, s. 3; 1989, c. 757, s. 6; 2018-5, s. 17.1(a); 2021-136, s. 1(c); 2021-138, s. 7(c).)