Applicants who have successfully completed all previous phases of the selection process are elibible to continue in the process with a background investigation as determined by the department. The background investigation includes but is not limited to the following reviews: criminal record, credit history, military record, current and previous employment history and references.
The peace officer background investigation is a very time and labor intensive process, requiring the collection of a variety of official documents, contacts with relatives, friends, employers and many others, and checks of almost every aspect of your personal history. The specific POST requirements for the conduct of the background investigation are found in Commission Regulation 9053 (PDF). Although this reference is designed for agency use, applicants may find them helpful in understanding the background process.
The background investigation process commonly begins with a meeting with the background investigator, who will explain the process and have you sign and complete numerous forms. The most lengthy and important form you will complete is the Personal History Statement (PHS) - Peace Officer (PDF). The investigator may have you complete the POST PHS or a similar form created by the agency. The information you provide on the PHS will be used in the background investigation portion of the hiring process. The information provided must be complete, accurate and straightforward.
Note that there are very few automatic bases for rejection. Even issues of prior misconduct, such as prior illegal drug use, driving under the influence, theft or even arrest or conviction are usually not, in and of themselves, automatically disqualifying. However, deliberate misstatements or omissions can and often will result in your application being rejected, regardless of the nature or reason for the misstatements/omissions. In fact, the number one reason individuals “fail” background investigations is because they deliberately withhold or misrepresent job-relevant information from their prospective employer.
At some point during the background process you may be asked to show proof of age, education, and citizenship status. Since it will take some time to acquire the official documentation (i.e., certified copies of birth certificate, official sealed copies of high school and/or college transcript(s), citizenship verification), you may consider collecting the information ahead of time based on instructions from your background investigator. You should also consider printing out the POST Personal History Statement (PHS) – Peace Officer (PDF) form, completing it and keeping the information as a “working” copy in a file for future reference. If the information on your PHS changes (i.e., you move residences, change jobs, complete college, etc.), be sure to update the information on your “working” copy. When it comes time to complete the agency’s personal history statement, you will have your personal history information and related documents readily available.
As part of the background investigation process you will be subjected to a detection of deception examination, such as a polygraph or voice stress analysis. Although it is not a POST requirement, detection of deception examinations are not uncommon. The primary purpose of these examinations is to verify the truthfulness of information that applicants have provided on the PHS and to the background investigator directly.
After reviewing this information, if you have any additional questions regarding Police Officer recruitment, testing, hiring or training, contact the Personnel and Training Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.