Police Officer Hiring Process – Background Investigation

The purpose of the background investigation is to determine if there is anything in your background that would disqualify you from the position that you have applied for. “Disqualifiers” will vary by department, while there are some disqualifiers that are fairly universal.

The background investigation is only done on applicants who have gone through the hiring process and are now being considered for employment.

While background investigations are using done prior to an applicant being offered employment, there can be situations where a background investigation has not yet been completed, the applicant will be offered a job, but based upon successful completion of the background investigation.

An applicant who may be disqualified from working at one agency should check around with other agencies before determining if a law enforcement career is still available to them. Types of disqualifiers include:

  • Criminal History (certain types of offenses)
  • Domestic Violence Conviction (misdemeanor or felony)
  • Drug Use (Varies by department)
  • Poor Driving Record
  • Bad Credit History (Can be an example of making poor personal choices)
  • Being fired from previous job for dishonesty.
  • Dishonorable Military Discharge

Police Officer Background InvestigationThese are just some of the items which may disqualify an applicant. The background investigation also determines if all of the representation made during the application and hiring process are correct.

When filing out the background forms it is vital to be truthful with every question asked, failure to do so is grounds for removing the candidate from consideration. They may be terminated if they have already been hired. Remember, there are 2 types of false statements, commission and omission. Commission is providing false or misleading information whereas omission is failing to put down information. It is not unusual for an applicant to be removed from consideration because they concealed particular information on the background forms. However, the information that they were trying to hide would not have been cause to remove them from consideration. The act of concealing it however was cause.

Agencies may require applicants to undergo a psychological examination and/or a polygraph exam.