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How common is getting to the "Backgrounds" phase?

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  • How common is getting to the "Backgrounds" phase?

    Just curious with everyone else's experience is with being placed into backgrounds. is that a cheap ask of a department, so they send quite a bit to? Or is it fairly expensive, and easy to send off PHS' to background agencies.

  • #2
    It depends. Are you applying to a small agency that has hundred of applicants vying for a few spots, then the competition is going to be tough. Those agencies are going to tend to put guys and gals who did great on: the written test, physical agility test and most important their oral board interview or are homegrown through cadet and explorer programs. On the other hand you have large agencies with a ton of vacancies ie LASD, LAPD, RSD, SBSD, then their written, physical and oral may not be as tough (or the bar is lower a bit) and more applicants get into backgrounds. Just because you made it into backgrounds does not mean anything, same questions are going to be asked. A small to medium agency that is not hurting for bodies, may be more stringent on some background stuff than a larger agency. A larger agency may have a bit more room and discretion to overlook some background issues. Notice I said some. At the end of the day if you have glaring issues, no agency is going to take a chance on you.
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    • #3
      I work for a smaller agency. At my agency if you make it to backgrounds then you are basically going to get hired. That is of course dependent on passing the background, polygraph, medical and psych.

      Backgrounds aren't necessarily cheap. Smaller agencies don't like to waste money on a background. Bigger agencies can absorb the costs of a failed background investigation better then smaller ones.

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      • #4
        I can't speak for current practices, but when I was hired, about half of the folks were bounced on the application alone because they failed to meet the minimum qualifications for admission to the testing process (age, citizenship, felony conviction, drivers license, high school diploma or GED, etc.). Of those who remained, another half failed the written. Of those who remained, another half falied the oral. Of those who remained, another half failed the physical agility. Then came the background. Only about 6% of those who originally applied were left at that point.

        Today we are in touchy feeley mode. Pressure has been brought to upon some departments to "better represent" the population they serve, even if members of that population do not want anything to do with being a police officer. To achieve "hiring goals" some agencies have been compelled to eliminate standards that would measure an applicant's actual ability to perform the duties of the job and replaced them with "optics" that visually present a more homogenized staff that looks good on brochures, irrespective of their skills, abilities or knowledge.

        If you are applying with one of "those'"agencies, how quickly you get to backgrounds will depend on whether you are affiliated with whatever underrepresented group is the flavor of the month.

        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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        • #5
          Originally posted by L-1 View Post
          I can't speak for current practices, but when I was hired, about half of the folks were bounced on the application alone because they failed to meet the minimum qualifications for admission to the testing process (age, citizenship, felony conviction, drivers license, high school diploma or GED, etc.). Of those who remained, another half failed the written. Of those who remained, another half falied the oral. Of those who remained, another half failed the physical agility. Then came the background. Only about 6% of those who originally applied were left at that point.

          Today we are in touchy feeley mode. Pressure has been brought to upon some departments to "better represent" the population they serve, even if members of that population do not want anything to do with being a police officer. To achieve "hiring goals" some agencies have been compelled to eliminate standards that would measure an applicant's actual ability to perform the duties of the job and replaced them with "optics" that visually present a more homogenized staff that looks good on brochures, irrespective of their skills, abilities or knowledge.

          If you are applying with one of "those'"agencies, how quickly you get to backgrounds will depend on whether you are affiliated with whatever underrepresented group is the flavor of the month.
          Sadly this is so true.

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          • #6
            When I first started, my agency weighed the written at 60% of your score and the oral at 40%. Then, the written was weighted as 40% and the oral as 60%, allowing for a little fudging on scores for people they "really wanted.". Later, the written became pass/fail and the oral was weighted at 100% - more leeway to manipulate. When that didn't achieve "hiring goals", the written was abolished and the oral was scored at 100%.

            I later moved to another agency who is under similar pressure. We use the POST written, but the oral has been abolished. (Yes, you heard that right - no oral.) It is left to the BI to figure you out on the background. Being retired I don't know what the washout rate is on the background or the attrition rate is in the academy, but we are going through the motions to satisfy the community. The feedback I get from those who are still working is that the focus of many who are currently being hired is "me first" and rather than the public interest or that of the department. I am so glad to be retired.
            Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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            • #7
              Getting to the "background" phase means different things in different departments. Generally it means that you have passed a basic entry examination and been placed on a list (usually in order of exam scores). Doing a background investigation is a multi-step process, some of those steps requiring expenditure of budget dollars, so the procedure may well be to do the simple, easy, and inexpensive things first (like ordering state and national criminal history). Believe it or not, some LE applicants will actually lie about criminal history (arrests, convictions, you name it), like no one is going to check?

              A comprehensive credit history is a very useful tool, containing not only your credit reports, but a history of residence addresses, history of employers, and others related via co-habitation or other connections. These reports cost a few bucks, but they can easily be compared to employment applications, resumes, and background questionnaires. Bad news for a lot of lying applicants, trying to hide evictions, adverse civil actions, former employers with negative information, you name it).

              Many agencies will follow up with inquiries by mail, telephone, or face-to-face contact with current/former employers (including co-workers, line supervisors, etc), educational institutions (you might be surprised how many folks inflate their educational credentials, if not outright lie about achievements), and personal references (the worst source, but valuable for identifying others who may be able to provide more objective information). Any documentation submitted can be expected to undergo verification.

              Having done a few (hundreds of) background investigations all I can tell anyone is to be absolutely truthful and forthcoming in every step of the process. Any prevarication is likely to be identified, if not sooner then certainly later on. No one expects the perfect human being to miraculously show up; everyone has a history that includes some degree of questionable conduct, but the successful applicant is usually the one who steps up and reports everything without excuses or denials. Backgrounds may continue for months after the hiring process, and I have seen many people called out of classes to receive their termination notices.

              In my personal experience (pre-internet, when we did everything by phone, mail, and shoe leather) over half of all applicants can be eliminated quickly nd easily, simply because they are liars. Too many people expect their background investigator to be like their mommy or their second grade teacher, give them a big hug and tell them everything will be all right. Today, with on-line access to just about anything and everything, the process is even easier and more straightforward. The bull-shooter doesn't stand much of a chance.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by retired1995 View Post
                Getting to the "background" phase means different things in different departments. Generally it means that you have passed a basic entry examination and been placed on a list (usually in order of exam scores). Doing a background investigation is a multi-step process, some of those steps requiring expenditure of budget dollars, so the procedure may well be to do the simple, easy, and inexpensive things first (like ordering state and national criminal history). Believe it or not, some LE applicants will actually lie about criminal history (arrests, convictions, you name it), like no one is going to check?

                A comprehensive credit history is a very useful tool, containing not only your credit reports, but a history of residence addresses, history of employers, and others related via co-habitation or other connections. These reports cost a few bucks, but they can easily be compared to employment applications, resumes, and background questionnaires. Bad news for a lot of lying applicants, trying to hide evictions, adverse civil actions, former employers with negative information, you name it).

                Many agencies will follow up with inquiries by mail, telephone, or face-to-face contact with current/former employers (including co-workers, line supervisors, etc), educational institutions (you might be surprised how many folks inflate their educational credentials, if not outright lie about achievements), and personal references (the worst source, but valuable for identifying others who may be able to provide more objective information). Any documentation submitted can be expected to undergo verification.

                Having done a few (hundreds of) background investigations all I can tell anyone is to be absolutely truthful and forthcoming in every step of the process. Any prevarication is likely to be identified, if not sooner then certainly later on. No one expects the perfect human being to miraculously show up; everyone has a history that includes some degree of questionable conduct, but the successful applicant is usually the one who steps up and reports everything without excuses or denials. Backgrounds may continue for months after the hiring process, and I have seen many people called out of classes to receive their termination notices.

                In my personal experience (pre-internet, when we did everything by phone, mail, and shoe leather) over half of all applicants can be eliminated quickly nd easily, simply because they are liars. Too many people expect their background investigator to be like their mommy or their second grade teacher, give them a big hug and tell them everything will be all right. Today, with on-line access to just about anything and everything, the process is even easier and more straightforward. The bull-shooter doesn't stand much of a chance.
                Thanks for the time to respond to this.




                Also, thanks everyone for their insight.

                What I gather is it’s a multi step process, which I knew and understand.

                I was just curious as to backgrounds shows worth, and if so, how much. I understand the small vs big agency, and cost effectiveness, but I think those terms are irrelevant as far as what constitutes big or small.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nickynick View Post

                  Thanks for the time to respond to this.




                  Also, thanks everyone for their insight.

                  What I gather is it’s a multi step process, which I knew and understand.

                  I was just curious as to backgrounds shows worth, and if so, how much. I understand the small vs big agency, and cost effectiveness, but I think those terms are irrelevant as far as what constitutes big or small.
                  Think of the hiring process as a filter. For some departments, even if you make it through backgrounds, you can still be non selected. Hell, it took me 5 years, 20+ applications, 10+ written exams/PATs, 10 background investigations, 6 DQ's to finally get hired.

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