Careers: Police/Background check


Hello, Mr. Toomey. First and foremost, I'd like to say thank you for taking the time to read and contemplate my dilemma. I've searched all over the web and have even asked medical professionals and other officers, and have still only found vague answers to my question. I took the time to read through MANY of the questions/answers on your section as well as other sections of this website, and have not found a question similar to the one I have, or a better-suited person to ask.

When I was 19, I was in college in Wisconsin (my home state) and having a hard time with relationships, friends, and school, and was having massive migraines. The doctor prescribed me Percocet for the migraines, and told me to take one for a "mild" one, and two for a severe one. One day, as I was in the middle of a phone conversation with a friend about a recent break up, I was starting to get a migraine and told her that I was sick of the pain (meaning the migraine; looking back, the wording I used was completely misleading). I popped two of the prescribed Percocet and continued the conversation until I fell asleep. I woke up about half an hour later to pounding on my dorm-room door; my friend was outside, wanting to take me to the ER. I assumed it was for the migraine, because lately I had been getting some that were bad enough to have to go to the hospital. Instead, when we got there, I was placed on an Emergency Detention(mental health hold, Chapter 51, or a 5150; whatever term works) because my friend thought that I had been trying to overdose. They tested my blood and found the Percocet, some other OTC headache medicine, and cold medicine (I had been battling a cold as well) in my system and determined that there was sufficient evidence to put me into a 72-hour emergency detention at a mental health facility. After I got out my school held a hearing which gave me two options: being kicked out and having my tuition taken away, or being "forced out" on a medical withdrawal and returning my tuition, citing my headaches as the cause. Needless to say, I chose the latter. After the incident I took a year and a half off of school, fixed the source of my migraines, and straightened out my issues, most of which were related to being a teenager. Then I went to tech school for Criminal Justice, finally following my dream of being a law enforcement officer.

Now, I realize that you do not need the whole back-story to my situation; however, it ties in with my ultimate inquiry. I also realize that there are thousands of agencies, each with its own hiring procedure and standards (to a point) and that this answer will change based on who is answering it. However, I would like a more definite answer than the typical "Well, medical records are sealed..." answer I normally receive.

Okay, now finally comes the question. With this incident on my record, am I considered "hireable" by a typical agency? It happened over four years ago, I have no desire to harm myself or others, and can handle stress very well compared to others my age.

Once again, I appreciate your time and the effort it took to read this lengthy question and to answer it. I also want to say that I admire the time you spend answering some of the questions on this forum; most can be found online or with a little bit of effort! It is a huge help to have a resource such as yourself to turn to when faced with a question about law enforcement.


You are not going to find the answer to this question online even if you searched for a week.  You basically answered your own question when you said that there are thousands of agencies and each has its own rules.  On the other hand there cannot be rule for ever little specific incident like yours.

You are right.  Medical records are private and no one can get them without a court order.  If the police department doesn't know they exist then they would not be getting any subpoena.

Here is what might happen.  On your initial application and or/interviews they may ask you if you have been hospitalized for any medical or mental health issue.  You would be forced to answer "Yes".  Then you would explain it.  If you answered "no" it would trip you up on the polygraph and then you would never work in criminal justice if you lied on the polygraph.

I don't mean to say that being truthful will disqualify you.  It may not.

So I hope that you see what your options are.

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Jack Toomey


If you are an author I will be happy to help you however I do expect a reasonable donation using the PayPal icon. U.S.: I am an expert in this category for the purpose of giving young people an idea what the hiring process involves for the position of police officer. I am getting a flood of questions from young people who are being influenced by unrealistic television shows. I'd ask you to consider that when you watch police shows on television that they are NOT realistic and most of what you see does not happen in real life. Please do not ask me about potential jail sentences that you, your friends, or family might receive in court. There is no way for me to know that. I am NOT a probation officer so I cannot answer questions about probation and parole matters. I am a retired police officer with 26 years experience.I worked in a variety of assignments including investigations, homicide, sex crimes, runaway investigations, missing persons, and fraud.I also dealt with the general public during that time giving a wide range of advice on matters such as domestic disputes, problem solving, teenage problems, civil/criminal matters, and dealing with the mentally ill. I am available to give sound and reasonable advice which can solve most problems. Please do not ask me to do homework questions or online interviews. Young people should not rely on the Internet for interviews. Local police officers are normally very agreeable to assist students with interviews and surveys.


Worked as a police officer/detective for 26 years.

Graduate of the University of Maryland.B.S. in Law Enforcement.Attended numerous schools and training courses involving investigations, interviewing, interrogations, crime detection, domestic violence, and others. Recognized in court as an expert witness.

Received numerous awards during my police career for expert investigations. Handled the most sensitive and confidential investigations. In 1999 I won an award for my work with high school students while working in my new career in a large suburban high school.

B.S from the University of Maryland.

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