frequently receive emails from aspiring law officers who are worried
about the background investigation phase of the law enforcement hiring
process. Often, they have several blemishes in their history and are
concerned as to how much of a problem they will pose when going through
the hiring review.
put together this article to help give applicants a good idea as to
where they stand.
Having completed or assisted with dozens of background investigations, I
can tell you that all is not lost because of a few poor choices.
Realistically, it is difficult to find applicants who have never had any
problems in their younger years.
Agencies vary greatly as to tolerance for blemished histories but more
and more are understanding that growing up will involve some poor
decisions. Even the most scrutinizing of agencies have built in
allowances for blemished backgrounds.
example, the New Jersey State Police and the FBI - both known for brutal
background investigations - have loosened their disqualification
criteria when it comes to drug use. Instead of automatic
disqualification, both may allow candidates to continue through the
process as long as the following apply:
1. No use of marijuana use within the last three years;
2. No use of other illegal drugs including steroids within the last
Previously, any history of drug use would instantly eliminate a
candidate from consideration.
determining whether a specific issue is fatal to an applicant's
candidacy there are three primary considerations:
-What was the issue?
long ago was the issue?
-What has he or she done since the issue?
was the issue?
There are certain issues or incidents which will lead to automatic
disqualification. Obviously, if you had spent your early 20's robbing
banks to support your crack habit, you're not going to work in law
enforcement. On the other hand, having tried marijuana, a DWI
conviction, motor vehicle points or accidents are not necessarily going
to knock you out of contention.
is becoming more common for agencies to assemble and publicize lists of
automatic disqualifiers. Below are the disqualification criteria used
by the New Jersey State Police:
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