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Careers: Police/Theft and Drugs-want to be a cop


Ok, so as I finished high school I experimented with marijuana, i was not a frequent user but a user nonetheless.  Also, I used to shoplift, until I was caught once and charged with a petty theft misdemeanor. I have decided to pursue a career in law enforcement,but I am worried about my chances in ever becoming a cop with the misdemeanor on my record, and history of drug use. is it a lost cause for me to try to become an officer?

Good morning Antoinette,

Some of this depends on how long it has been since your last use and your application date. Also the amount of time that has passed since your petty theft charges occurred. The longer the time between your use and theft arrest and your application date the better. Departments are generally looking for 3 to 5 years between your last use of illegal drugs and the time that you apply. The misdemeanor arrest should not be a big deal as long as it was only the one time and was adjudicated through the courts correctly.

You will be asked about the marijuana use and how frequent it was and for how long. If you used marijuana over an extended period of time and show a pattern of a habitual user, this will be an item that will be discussed by you and your background investigator. In addition you say that you used to shoplift until you were caught, they will ask how many times you shoplifted before you were caught. They look for patterns of behavior that reveal a personality of a type that may be susceptible to certain things.

Those items are up to your background investigator and you to discuss. I would say that you will have some explaining to do and depending upon your answers and the background investigator will be the outcome of the investigation.

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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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