What Disqualifies You From Being a Police Officer?

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First of all, kudos to you if you’re thinking of starting a job in law enforcement.

It is not a career path that everyone just naturally gravitates to, and not all of those who do actually have what it takes.

After all, being a cop is unlike any regular job; it’s a calling.

Hence, it is crucial to learn what disqualifies you from being a police officer. In this way, you’ll be able to prepare for your application in advance.

The Minimum Requirements To Be a Law Enforcement Officer

Before we move on to talk about the possible factors that can disqualify you from getting a job in law enforcement, allow us to give you a quick walkthrough of the hiring process.

Keep in mind that different law enforcement agencies may differ from each other when it comes to their application process and requirements.

Therefore, it’s still best to do your own research before you start creating that resume.

Step 1: Meet the minimum requirement

To obtain a position in law enforcement in the U.S., you need to (at least) be 18 (or 21) years old, have citizenship, and have a high school diploma or GED.

Depending on your preferred department, some require at least a college degree, a driver’s license, and a clean criminal record.

We’re going to talk more about background check points later.

Step 2: Pass a law enforcement exam.

If you meet those basic qualifications, the next step usually involves passing an entrance exam. 

What that exam will be will depend on the jurisdiction.

Some of the commonly given ones include Asset, Compass, and the Law Enforcement Examination (LEE).

Step 3: Graduate from the police academy.

Law enforcement applicants will need to undergo intense training for at least six months. 

You will probably need additional training and take promotion exams to move forward in your career later on.

For now, meeting the requirements we have mentioned will serve as a solid first step.

We say that it’s the first step because you will also need to undergo a comprehensive background investigation process.

learn what disqualifies you from being a police officer

What Disqualifies You From Being a Police Officer?

Given the country’s current climate, it really is no surprise that potential police officers are getting more scrutinized than ever.

The background investigation you might undergo can even include your family, friends, and community.

There are various factors to keep you from getting accepted, but the ones we’re going to share below are the most crucial points.

Problematic Past Records

One of the first things that a routine background check for a position in law enforcement will go through is, of course, a person’s criminal records.

You need to have a clean record.

Some departments that might allow a minor infraction or two, as long as it wasn’t repetitive and you have been completely honest about it from the get-go.

Serious misdemeanors are definitely going to be an issue. Meanwhile, a felony or domestic violence conviction is an automatic disqualifier.

If you have one of these, you won’t lawfully be allowed to possess a firearm, and that’s simply not an option for a police officer.

You can’t go strolling around with just a pair of handcuffs, right?

Dishonorable Discharge

Coming from military service or having experience working for another law enforcement agency (regardless of position) is a plus when applying to be a police officer.

However, you will need to at least have a satisfactory record.

For instance, getting a dishonorable discharge from military service is a huge red flag and is commonly considered a permanent disqualification factor.

In line with this, you can expect that they’ll also look into your complete employment history.

So, even if you were discharged from service with honorable conditions but encountered issues with a position you have taken before or after that, it can severely impact your chances.

Bad Credit

There are many things you can find out about a person just by looking at their credit history.

However, you still need to show you are adept in financial management when applying to become a police officer.

That’s because people with poor financial literacy and those with a lot of debt are more vulnerable to bribery, extortion, and other criminal ploys.

Poor Driving Record

Driving plays a significant role in the job of a police officer.

That’s why you need to make sure you not only know how to drive but also are a license holder and a responsible driver.

A speed ticket or two can be overlooked, but having a DUI or a reckless driving record won’t cut it.

Poor Health and Wellness

Being a police officer can be physically, emotionally, and psychologically stressful.

Because of this, you will be required to pass a physical test and a psychological screening.

You will also have to endure extensive drug testing. Any traces of illegal drugs in your system is an automatic disqualifier.

Other Possible Factors

While these factors may not lead to permanent disqualification, inappropriate tattoos and weird social media posts may also lead to your disqualification.

Accuracy and Honesty Are Key

Whatever the case, you just need to keep in mind that accuracy and honesty are key.

If you have any concerns about past criminal records, lapses in judgment, or anything that can make you look bad (whether it’s on paper or not), you have to come clean about them at the time of application.

We understand that today’s hiring standards can be strict, but making false statements won’t get you anywhere.

Police background checks can sometimes even involve interviews with the people you love and your community.

Therefore, if you have any community issues, it would probably be best to deal with them before handing in your application.

Getting Disqualified From Being a Police Officer

Paving a career in law enforcement is not for the faint of heart.

The selection process might be challenging, but it’s just the beginning of a challenging yet exciting and rewarding journey.

We hope our quick guide that tackles what disqualifies you from being a police officer helps you become one.

Good luck!