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Careers: Police/Background Investigation Results


QUESTION: Hello Mr Payne,

My name is Manny. I'm a US Army Veteran (8yrs), and after I moved to Los Angeles I wanted to become a police officer, since I've always liked the opportunity to help others and do what's right.

Unfortunately, from 2008 until early 2011, I went through 7 police departments and got disqualified from 4 of them during the background investigation portion. Glendale PD, CHP, LA Sheriff's and Portland Police Bureau.

I'm gonna be honest, and say that yes, I didn't know how the process worked going through these police investigations, so I did some mistakes, or like my wife tells me I was being too honest.

-One Department told me I tried to manipulate the investigation, because I asked a friend to give reliable friends who knew me if my investigator happened to ask. I accepted this as a dumb mistake from my part, and I moved on. The Lieutenant in charge saw my file and potential, and encouraged me to continue to pursue my goal of being an officer, despite of what happened.

- The other department told us that we would have two interviews, an initial interview with a panel,and then the "big" interview with the background investigator (where applicants would have the chance to say/explain everything). Well, I made a mistake of not mentioning everything in my first interview, so when we did the second one, the investigator told me that I was not being honest so I got disqualified because of that. I thought I could explain myself. But understanding police mentality. I held my tears, since the investigator encouraged me to apply in a couple of years, since I had potential for being a good officer. I moved on.

- The third department took me all the way to the polygraph (in which, you are mandated to retake questions you happen to fail on another date) I told my background investigator everything. As I have read. Everyone says tell them everything that's been asked of you. So I did. But then, when I did the polygraph I was asked questions I wasn't asked before by paper or him, like, have I had sex with a prostitute or something like that. I remember saying that I was stationed in Korea, so yes I did, outside the base. Domestic violence? No, but yes? my wife slapped me once, and I slapped her back when we were drunk, then immediately we made up and apologized. Never happened again. Have you ever masturbated? yes, not in public but in private, while in Afghanistan.
I took the poly, and ironically enough, I was truthful with the question: -Did you come here today with the intent to lie? No. I was told they were gonna rescheduled me for a retake on a couple of questions, but instead, I received a letter disqualifying me for lewd conduct. That one hurt.

-The fourth agency, which did an out-of-state hiring, took me all the way to backgrounds, which was a female Army veteran. I thought I had someone who could understand everything I've said and done. However, since our interview was over the phone, I mentioned everything I told everyone before. I didn't want to fail. We finished, and then like 3 weeks later I got a letter that I have been disqualified. And they reserve the right to not tell you why (we signed a form about it). That was the knife to my heart.

Mr Payne, I tell ya, I have never been arrested, never done drugs whatsoever, and other than the things I've told the investigators, that is it. I was young and immature at 22. Now at 32 I still have no felonies or misdemeanors or done anything wrong. However, I understand 100% that I got disqualified because I was seen as a deceitful applicant, or told too much at the wrong time, or some events happened close to my being there.

My question to you is, Since 08-10 til now 2013, are these background results still valid? or are they shredded? or will I always be blacklisted?

I don't like to think that investigators call each other and say not to hire me and call it a day. I just want to be able to explain myself and that I'm not hiding anything and be given a fair chance. I applied to 4 police departments in the last month, and I've passed their test and I'm ready for one panel interview and one background interview. I'm scared that everyone is gonna reject cause of the past without even talking to me. How does this work? I wanna be a police officer so bad, it hurts when I see gang members being hired instead.

Any advice would immensely appreciated. I don't want to quit. God bless."

ANSWER: Good Morning Manny,

If you don't mind since Mr. Payne placed your question in the question pool, I would like to take a chance and answer some of you questions and give you a little advice. Feel free to look up my profile so you know where I am coming from.

First the background investigations you did/submitted are more than likely still on file. Some states have a central file system (do not know if CAL has one# but most do not. When you fill out the application, only answer the questions asked. Answer them truthfully so that when your asked again in the interview or polygraph you will answer the same way. Read this if you want more information on applying to an agency:

Then when in background and asked questions by the investigator, again answer only questions that you are asked, and answer truthfully. Different departments have different requirements and standards. Not all are the same, with what you said in your post, I know of many agencies that are much more realistic and understanding than the ones you mention. Why they would ask you if you have ever masturbated is beyond me, I think that every male has at one time or another. Visiting a prostitute while in the military and station where I think its legal #is it not? It was when I was stationed in Germany# which is not a crime again is kind of silly, especially if it was some time ago and you were single at the time.
Read this for more on Background Investigations:

Investigators will at times call others to see if you are saying the same thing in each application. That why they try to find out if you are being honest from one to the other. Always answer questions the same way on each application. But if you were to say apply in Florida,they would have no way of knowing that you applied in Cal unless they ask you or you tell them on your own #which you should not do unless asked#.

This web page I made just for people like you who are applying in Florida but the information applies to almost all states and departments:

I would suggest that you apply outside of your area or think of moving to another state #come to Florida we hire vets like crazy and understand the military, I was 3rd ID and work with vets). But think of it like that once you apply and are disqualified, you need to move on and submit again somewhere else. Small departments would be your best bet, as they actually talk to you and try work things out with you.

I hope these suggestions and answers help you out. Thank you for your service to our country, from one vet to another.

Stay safe and be well.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Mr Wagoner, thank you so much for taking the time to give me these valuable tips. I will certainly keep this in mind through every process.

Unfortunately, because of my wife's job it'd be kind of difficult for us to move to a different area or somewhere with a smaller department. Lord knows I'd pack my bags if I was single.

I understand your key points during the background investigation, the only thing I'm nervous or unsure about is that I know I put the same answers every time, but then the investigators always ask, do you have anything else you would like to tell me or add? And that's when my guilty conscience says: "well, tell him everything you done wrong when you were younger!" So I do, cause I don't wanna seem deceitful. And even though I failed a couple cause I left stuff out, then Okay.

You said not to say anything unless I'm asked, but if he asks me if I'd like to add anything else after going through the PHQ should I mention everything I told everyone else cause I wouldn't wanna be deceitful, right? But after that, I have learned to remain quiet and go with the flow.

You have given me a great piece of mind, Mr Wagoner. Thank you for serving our beloved country as well, and taken the time to help me in this inner battle. God bless.

ANSWER: Hi again Manny,

When they ask you is there anything you want to add, the answer is no. Do not did up every little thing you did as a kid. Uless it broke the law, its not important to reveal it to them. Only answer what they ask.

You will be OK keep trying.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Mr. Wagoner. I will do just that from now on.

My last question is, you said not to say anything else unless I broke the law, so it should be okay to tell them what I told my other previous investigators? like:

- me stationed in Korea and paying a pro in 2002
- Ive been orally reprimanded by my 1st sgt for being outside the base alone without a buddy, no paperwork, just ordered to barracks for 2 weeks.
- stealing some donuts and juice from my job when I was 17 in 97.
- me being pranked by my friends with a girl I slept with when I was 20. Unbeknownst to me she was 18, my squad knew that, and told me she was 16
- I drove under the influence once in 05 (no arrest/no incident)
- me and my wife slapped each other once in '07 (drunk moment for both)

These are the things that have happened to me, but I've never done them again. I learned from all my mistakes and shenanigans. I was only worried that there would be something like an event I mentioned before, like me in my privacy doing my thing, and then being disqualified for lewd conduct. I'm just gonna answer what I'm asked and hopefully they won't disqualify for being too honest. Thanks for everything!

Hey Manny,

Lets talk about these:
- me stationed in Korea and paying a pro in 2002
Not unless asked, since its leagl you did nothing wrong.

- Ive been orally reprimanded by my 1st sgt for being outside the base alone without a buddy, no paperwork, just ordered to barracks for 2 weeks.
This is so minor, I would not mention it. No big deal and quite frankly, so minor I am surprised you remember it.

- stealing some donuts and juice from my job when I was 17 in 97.
You can mention this, but they should laugh at it. How many people would remember taking some donuts and juice? You must really have a strong honesty streak, I would not even think of this.

- me being pranked by my friends with a girl I slept with when I was 20. Unbeknownst to me she was 18, my squad knew that, and told me she was 16.
OK so what is the violation or problem here? What you did again was legal and should not be brought up.

- I drove under the influence once in 05 (no arrest/no incident)
If you remember this and they ask, then tell. But if they don't do not volunteer this. I hate to say it, anyone that has had more than a few drinks and driven has probaly done this.

- me and my wife slapped each other once in '07 (drunk moment for both)
Technically this is mutal domestic violence, and not a State Attorney in the would would take this, since you both did the same thing and both were drunk. If they ask, tell, if not, don't volunteer.

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Chris Wagoner


I have been a police officer for 30+ years! I am the Police Academy Commander at the Santa Fe College, Institute of Public Safety in Gainesville Florida It is a full service Law Enforcement and Corrections training facility. I can answer most questions concerning law enforcement procedures, law enforcement training and general questions about law enforcment. I can also answer questions about becoming a law enfocement officer. I have a booklet and web page I have written that answers many questions about how to become a police officer called "So you want to be a cop (police Officer) in Florida?", which is free, Google it.. All you have to do is ask. I teach the following subjects: RADAR/LASER, Law Enforcement Driving, Law Enforcement Firearms and Patrol Techniques, Officer Safety, WMD's for Patrol Officers, Application of Law, Communications skills, Dealing with the Mentally and physically handicapped, and many more subjects. I have worked as a subject matter expert for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and helped to write the police curriculum for the State of Florida. I like answering questions about how to become a police officer, and questions about why did an officer do this or that type questions. I also like answering any questions you may have about police work in general. I do not mind helping with homework questions or trying to answer your questions about legal subjects that I have knowledge of. You will never know the answer until you ask! If you do ask a question, PLEASE take the time to at least rate the answer. I do not get paid to answer these questions and do it on my own time. If you ask, please rate it when I answer. Thanks!!! If its a question about becoming a police officer, it may be answered here: My "hobby" website - Military Videos on YouTube and Facebook!!


I am a 30+ year veteran police officer, I am currently the Police Academy Commander of an Academy in North FLorida. I have been training police officers since 1993 and have trained them in all aspects of law enforcement, including firearms, Driving and legal subjects including patrol techniques and others and training all over the world. I have trained over 5000 officers worldwide in the last 16 years of training.

I am a published author in Accident Investigation from the University of North Florida, Institute of Police Technology and Management. Also have written and published on the Internet, "So You Want to be a Cop (Police Officer) in Florida?" you can Google it..

I have 2 degrees, in Criminal Justice.

Awards and Honors
Phi Theta Kappa, plus 50+ Departmental Awards over the years. FBI Directors award for assisting in a Nationwide investigation into Child pornography.

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