Background Requirements for Police Officer and Law Enforcement Jobs

It’s been a long time coming, but the post covering background issues as they relate to police officer hiring is here. It’s different than most of my posts, because I didn’t write it. One of my blog readers wrote me an email out of the blue.

It’s a police officer’s take on background issues and considerations for those thinking about working in law enforcement as police officers. Check it out below.

Police officer careers include those in municipalities, as wells as county Sheriff’s Deputy, State Patrol, FBI, DEA, Secret Service and Diplomatic Security Special Agent, to name a few. Make sure to check out more law enforcement careers.

Hi Radek,

I’ve been a police officer for about 8 years and am a hostage negotiator for my department. I also am getting an MA in sociology from California State University, Northridge. I received my masters in public administration right before I became a cop, and decided it was time for some more schooling. My ultimate goal is to get a PhD and teach (with the MA, i can do that as well..) so we’ll see how far it goes.

I think your site is great and FULL of very useful ideas, articles, etc.

I get approached all the time by young men (and women) about becoming a police officer. All of them seem to have issues in their background and have questions such as, “I got a DUI…can I still become a cop? or, “I did Ecstasy….can I still become a cop?

My answer to them seems to shock them and that is this: While issues in your background are a case-by-case basis, the process of getting into LE is COMPETITIVE!!!!!

Everyone seems to think that if they meet the minimum requirement, then they are guaranteed a job and this is simply not true. My agency filters about 500 apps for every one body that eventually makes it through the entire process. Some agencies are a little less and some are a lot more. Santa Monica PD filters 1500!! The point is, such as in the private sector, LE jobs are extremely competitive and a person’s background plays into that. So, while Ecstasy is an automatic disqualify at my agency, I tell the DUI people that while it might not be an automatic DQ, you’re going to be competing with hundreds of applicants that don’t have a DUI.

That’s all……just wanted to share my thoughts. Most people trying to get into the LE game today seem to forget that its as competitive as ever and their background issues are going to play into that.

Keep up the GREAT work!

Although there are many comments throughout the website from seasoned law enforcement professionals covering many of these issues individually, I am particularly thankful that someone — who’s in the trenches every day — has summarized background investigation issues and how they relate to hiring of police officers.

If you liked this blog post, make sure to check out how your credit plays a role in hiring for police officer positions.

The hiring process is not “easy peasy lemon squeezy,” especially when it comes to the background investigation. It’s a very competitive process that digs deep into your life; your background, current affairs, finances, relationships and more.

If you work in the criminal justice system, directly or indirectly, and you would like to share your “2 cents,” please write. Thousands of people are eager to learn about the inner workings of different agencies and organizations.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

3 comments… add one
  • Marty Williams

    Would having your name on the child maltreatment registry disqualify you from becoming a police officer

  • lisa

    My daughter is going into 9th grade. We homeschool, so I’m looking at trying to have her study what she would need to become a Police Officer. What would you recommend we study. I have two books, the American Constitutional Law cases and Interpretation and Juvenile Justice Today that I was going to have her read and then I thought about getting a book on Police academy exams to study from. What else would you recommend.

  • Desiree Hall

    Hey my name is Desiree and i’m a young mom and new to the felony on my background anyways,where this is going is did i ruin my life? I got caught with some charges but, instead of beating them and having patience well… jail sucks so i plead guilty with congressional discharge. I’m on felony probation 3 yrs with fines and C.S. etc. I was charged with 3 pills (felony), under 1 ounce marijuana (misdemeanor),drug related objects (misdemeanor) and having my pills out of the correct container (misdemeanor). However, i also have been back home sober going to school and need to know if i get my G.E.D. if i could be qualified still with it clears off my record to become a Crime Lab Analyst? I have 3 yrs. probation but believe i have plenty of time to get prepared and once i’m off probation it’s also off my record as well. Should i still go for it? Thanks for being able to help with my questions and interests, have a blessed day. Dez.

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