What Will Disqualify You From Being A Police Officer Common Disqualifiers

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All You Need To Know About Police Background Check And What Will Disqualify You From Being A Police Officer 

Law enforcement or police department is an essential part of society. It helps in maintaining harmony and restoring peace. To join the police department, you first need to fill out the application, pass a written exam, clear a health and fitness test, go through an interview and join the police academy.

If you clear all of that then comes a background check which is hard to clear for most of the candidates.

To ensure that the prospective police candidates have moral courage and a clear history of carrying the badge and a gun; undergoes through a strict background check. The background checks consists of criminal records, previous employment, educational details and personal information about family and friends.

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What Will Disqualify You From Being A Police Officer

You need to know that the investigation starts from the time you fill out the application form and follows along through the whole process. So, if there are changes made in your life like a change in mobile number or address or anything information that was mentioned in the application form do inform the agency. It will give a good impression of a responsible citizen and save your time from hustling back and forth by during the investigation.

Police agencies can refuse employment offers on criminal records. It does not mean those police agencies will rule out police applicants who have a record. It means those police agencies and police departments will look at and review police applicants’ criminal records more closely than police applicants with no police background check disqualifiers

A police agency cannot refuse any kind of police applicant, no matter how much criminal history they have, if the law allows them to be employed for this certain position .

Also, police agencies cannot refuse police applicants for police job positions if they have a police record related to police work. For example, New York law allows the police commissioner of the city of New York to employ as a member of the police department any person against whom no controlling conviction or convictions exist which would affect their eligibility under civil service law .

There are several reasons why police agencies can refuse job offers on police background check disqualifiers. Police applicants’ criminal records include arrests that did not result in convictions, convictions for minor crimes, and pending court cases. Also, police agencies may reject police applicants with a poor credit history or insufficient work history. It is always possible that police agencies find out about criminal charges filed against police applicants that police agency was unaware of at police applicant’s interview or during a police background check. If police officer job offer is rejected on police background check disqualifiers, police agencies can’t change their mind later even if some of police background check disqualifiers are dropped off by the final court decision or removed from police applicant’s record.

Even though police agencies refuse job offers for police officers on some police background check disqualifiers, many of those police applicants can still become sworn officers someday if their criminal records are expunged after a few years. Many states allow for this possibility and believe it is crucial to give people who had problems in the past another chance. For example, New York law allows for an adult person convicted of breaking and entering at nighttime to become police officer only five (5) years after the full expiration of sentence or release from imprisonment, whichever is later.

Police agencies disqualify police applicants on criminal police records. Some police agencies disqualify police applicants who qualify for police jobs on police backgrounds check disqualifiers such as if they have been convicted of domestic violence, sexual assault against children, prostitution, indecent exposure, arson, or any crime involving moral turpitude. Police agencies also disqualify police applicants with previous employment termination history that may be the cause of concern. This includes police officers fired for misconduct by other police departments. Also, police agencies can refuse any applications on police background check disqualifiers related to physical condition or disease that shows up during medical examination for police jobs.

Police agencies ask police applicants to police clearances during the police background check procedure. If police departments deny employment to police applicants on police records, then police applicants should not try to evade or circumvent this type of police record because it can bar them from getting other police jobs for good. For example, if an applicant has an arrest record but no conviction, this does not necessarily mean that he or she will automatically get a job as a police officer . The decision depends on what the police agency entails in its standards and qualifications for candidates to consider for employment as police officers

Not all police agencies disqualify police applicants with criminal backgrounds. For example, Ohio allows municipal police departments to consider only certain kinds of police records when making employment decisions . Also, New York City does not allow for automatic disqualification on previous arrests without convictions . However, some states require that police applicants be police cleared before they can become police officers.

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Police Background Check: What Do They Look For?

These are the main areas of police background check investigation.

Friends and Family:

For some people, it is uncomfortable when their personal space is being invaded. You need to know that police background checks will invade that personal space. The police investigators visit your current residence and your hometown to meet with your family and friends. Asks questions about you and your nature. It would be best if you informed your friends beforehand about the background check investigation to avoid any inconvenience.


The investigators will obtain high school and college transcripts to verify the educational information as listed on the application. They might interview some of your former teachers and classmates to check if there were any disciplinary issues.


Your previous history about employment is collected; job title, the time duration of the employment, and reasons why you stopped working for them. If the response is positive, then that is a plus point if you are fired more than once then that can cause you trouble in getting the job.

Criminal Record:

Felony convictions can make it impossible for you to move forward in the hiring process. You need to have a clear record if you are going to apply for the police department. If you have committed that goes unnoticed before it is better not to hide it as it will eventually come out in the investigation process. Any domestic violence, even a misdemeanor, will prohibit you from carrying a firearm and thus becoming a law enforcement officer.

Credit History:

Financial history is reviewed to ensure a candidate is financially responsible. It reviles if you have a trustworthy and accountable person. It is also done to confirm if you have any debt left, which can indicate that in future, there could be a chance of bribery.

Drug Abuse:

Drug abuse is one of the significant disqualifying reasons. However, tolerance greatly varies on individual departments. It also depends on the drug, its quantity, and the duration when it was taken.

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Police Background Checks Disqualifiers.

The areas covered by the police employment background check deal with almost all spheres of your life. There are some of the things which will not let you become an police officer.

Here is a list of top police background investigation disqualifiers that agencies look for when hiring a new law enforcement officer.

  • Felony convictions
  • Serious misdemeanors
  • Current drug use or past drug abuse
  • Dishonorable discharge from the military service
  • Poor credit history
  • History of domestic violence
  • Poor Driving Records
  • Unreported past crimes
  • Past or current gang affiliations
  • Poor employment record
  • Inappropriate Tattoos
  • Hateful Social Media presence
  • Failing psychological Screening
  • Incorrect, false or incomplete information is given on the application form

Felony Convictions

Criminal history check is one of the cornerstones of the police background check. It is pretty much clear that if there is any felony conviction present in your records, the application process stops there. If the crime is not that damaging a guilty plea might help you in becoming a law enforcement officer. However, it is crucial to remember that some crimes are characterized differently in different jurisdictions.

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Serious Misdemeanors

In general, falconry are pretty clear-cut; however, misdemeanors are a little cloudy. There is no fixed definition, it changes from agency to agency, but crimes like DUI convictions (driving under the influence), assault and perjury or some immoral behavior like violence or theft may disqualify a candidate.

Past Or Current Drug Use

The employees and job applicants must be drug-free. Some of the agencies have become more forgiving of the past drug use if mentioned that it was for experimental use only for a short period. This rule is also applied to ’ marijuana’ and other lesser drugs. However, any use of cocaine, hallucinogens, or ecstasy will usually be a disqualifier in many cases.

Dishonourable Discharge From Military Service

Military service is valued by all the departments, especially law enforcement and criminal justice. The honorable discharge will be pleasant as the law enforcement agencies will appreciate your services. Still, a dishonorable discharge from the military is a top disqualifier from the police background check. The dishonorable discharge is when an active militant commits a serious offence which is an automatic disqualifier for law enforcement.

Poor Credit History

The agencies are not interested in your credit, but they are more interested whether or not you are fulfilling your obligations. A good credit history shows that you are responsible, and your life is financially smooth. Still, a poor credit history shows that you are irresponsible makes poor decisions or a failure to meet financial obligations. For law enforcement agencies, this is a bad sign as in the future it could lead to bribery.

History Of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence stands in complete contrast to the values and responsibilities of a law enforcement officer. The public will never trust an officer with a history of domestic violence. If any incident appears in the record, the candidate will be disqualified, and the agency will likely ban the person.

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Poor Driving Records

Poor-DrivingMinor driving mistakes are common amongst the drivers- no one can drive like Michael Schumacher. However, severe or repeated driving offences show recklessness and disregard for the law, which are high unaspirated qualities of an officer. Some of the issues that might let you off are prior driver license suspensions, multiple moving violations, reckless driving convictions or DUI, excessive speeding citations.

Unreported Past Crimes

Humans are not perfect. People make mistakes. Some go noticed, and some are not. If a candidate has committed a crime in the past but got arrested for that, the crime eventually comes out during an investigation process. These crimes are severe convictions for the agencies, and candidates might get disqualified for it.

Past Or Current Gang Affiliations

The criminal affiliation means that a candidate performed severe illegal activities. The agencies disqualify the person right at the spot when it is found in the background history as they cannot take a candidate who has tendencies of breaking the laws.

Poor Employment Recordemployment-record

Employment history is always with you no matter where you are working. The employment records show what type of jobs you had before and what kind of employee you were. A poor recommendation can be explained as a personality conflict or a bad job fit. A pattern of consistent unbearable behavior like laziness, wrong amplitude, and poor relation with coworkers will disqualify you from the hiring process.

Inappropriate Tattoos

Tattoos have been a part of the human body, and people have been reflecting different life experiences from these tattoos. Some of the tattoos are revealing, while others have sensitive shapes. Often these tattoos can be much disturbing for others because of how they are made. The Tattoos can also lead to disqualification from being a police officer.

Not all tattoos are disqualifiers. Instead, the ones revealing and having sensitive information displayed on them will lead to your disqualification from the police academy. The tattoos on your body shall not be revealing, and they shall not display hateful information. One might think of why are tattoos banned when they do not have to do anything with the tasks of a police officer? In reality, they have a lot to do with the duties of a police officer. The tattoos can affect the investigation conducted by a police officer, or they can also have an impact on the people being detained by the police department. For this reason, the tattoos that are visible to the people are considered as disqualifiers from the police academy.

Hateful Social Media presence

Social Media accounts are often treated very casually, and people share stuff on their handles without realizing the outcomes of this practice. Social media accounts are considered the reflection of an individual’s personality, and the information shared on these handles is considered to reflect an individual’s thoughts. The same goes for law enforcement agencies. The law enforcement agencies also verify the social media accounts of the individuals, and the shared posts are monitored to examine the behavior of individuals.

The Social media posts shared years ago are also monitored, and the individuals with hateful mindsets are permanently disqualified from the police academy. The shortlisted candidates for the interview are being monitored through social media posts. If the posts are casual and do not reflect hateful mindsets, the candidates are interviewed and shortlisted. Else the candidates will be disqualified for possessing a hateful mindset.

Failing psychological Screening

Psychological-TheoriesA psychological screening test is conducted before the induction of the police candidates. This test is conducted to ensure that the police cadets can perform their tasks efficiently. The tasks of a police officer are often challenging, and the police department wants to ensure that the candidates are in sound psychological health to carry out the challenging tasks of police.

For this reason, psychological Screening is emphasized. During the Screening, the officers of the police academy ask various questions to the cadets. The answers to those questions determine if the cadet is capable of bearing the burden of a Police job. Although psychological Screening might seem a more manageable part, there are complexities attached to it. A person needs to have sound mental health to clear the psychological screening process.

We have discussed the disqualifiers for the police academy. How about discussing the requirements to become a part of the police academy? Most of you already have these requirements. All you need to do is go through the checklist and make sure that you do not miss any of these requirements. So, without any further due, let jump straight to the list of requirements.

Incorrect, False Or Incomplete Information Given On The Application Form

Candidate must mention the correct details and be as honest and forthcoming as possible. False or incomplete information gives rise to red flags that agencies cannot ignore. It will automatically mean that you are hiding something. Honesty and integrity are the two fundamental principles of the law enforcement agencies, so they keep an eye on applicants through this process. If anything fishy is caught, you can most likely get disqualified.

Some other disqualifiers can be tattoos, depending on the type and how visible they are. It is always better to ask the department you are applying for or a friend who has applied or work in the agency.

The rules mentioned above are almost similar for LAPD and NYPD and many other agencies present in the United States of America.

The details as mentioned earlier and criteria will help you in understanding whether you are eligible for applying to a law enforcement agency or not. In conclusion, it is essential to know that background investigations are an integral part of hiring. It is recommended not to hide past mistakes and run from but be open about it on the contrary – there is still a chance that the evaluation is in your favour. However, if you think you have committed serious crimes, and there is no chance of getting through the process, it is better to look for another line of work and not lose hope.

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