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#4 on list, but here's the situation...


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  • #4 on list, but here's the situation...

    I have recently placed in the top 5 on a civil service list for a suburb just outside of Cleveland, Oh. This is after the exam and agility test. I have a polygraph appointment on DEC 14th and my BI will be conducted shortly. I'm 25 years old (26 in December) with a wife, two children, and 4 years of military experience (discharged at the rank of Sergeant E-5). I haven't really worked since my honorable discharge in early 2005, but have been a full-time student and have accumulated nearly 75 credit hours total in the field of Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice since my release. Just wanted to give a little background before I get into the questionable stuff.

    I have no adult criminal record. I have a juvenile record, but nothing other than a speeding ticket after the age of 15, and nothing other than a vandalism charge past the age of 13 (vandal at 14 years). At 13, I was remanded to a detention center (at my parents' request) and spent nearly a year at a "boys' school." The things I did to earn a ticket to said "home" (B+E, Criminal Trespassing, Petty Theft, Theft, Unruly; all offenses were perpetrated with friends to other friends' homes [3 homes total]) were all done in the city that I have placed for. I am also a H.S. drop-out, opting for a GED shortly thereafter. I lived in this city from ages 2-15.

    Being an early drop-out, I have held many (like 20) jobs, with most being run through between ages 15-19. Basically hopeless before joining the military. I am by no means a dummy, despite not finishing H.S. My GED test score was near perfect, I scored a 124 on the ASVAB, I graduated with distinguished honors from my AIT class in the Army, and hold a 3.6 GPA through more than two years and nearly 75 credit hours worth of college.

    In the military I received an article 15 towards the end of AIT (summer, 2001) for violation of the U.S. Army Alcohol, Tobacco, and Substance Use/Abuse policy. I was cited for use/possession of alcohol, a medication prescription not prescribed to me, marijuana, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. This stems from a single incident, not over an extended period. I was tested for the specific drugs (pot, xanax) and all other drugs a day after the alleged incident and was found not to have used these substances. The article 15 proceedings continued, and I accepted the "charges" as guilt by association, as I did put myself in the situation to have my character and integrity questioned. The penalty was the lowest available for a field grade article 15, with the restriction/extra duty suspended and after 3 days. No loss of rank (private E-2) occurred. No harm was done to my career, as I was promoted to Sergeant well short of 3 years later.

    My financial history was shady because of credit cards I acquired when I was 18 and unpaid utilities from the same time. All have been paid-in-full or "in full as agreed" for nearly two years. My credit score has crept up to 650 in lieu of this and my credit record is perfect (3 auto loans [1 paid-off], 2 personal loans [both paid in full], 3 credit cards [1 paid in full]) aside from those debts that I incurred. My debt does not exceed income.

    I do not currently drink alcohol or use tobacco products. I quit smoking recently (for the third, and final, time) and have not used alcohol in over a year-and-a-half. I never had a problem with alcohol use or abuse, I just decided that not drinking would set a good example for my kids. My wife did the same. I experimented with marijuana when I was 13 and haven't used it since. It made me puke. The fact that I do not and did not use drugs made my article 15 hearing even more embarrassing.

    I would like to know if anyone has been hired facing similar obstacles, or if I've done enough to clean up my history to show that I am a qualified applicant despite of it. Being a police officer is my dream, and I have tried to do everything possible to position myself to be able to overcome my past. I did not hide anything in my questionnaire nor do I plan on hiding anything through the interview process. If my future looks grim, what other things can I do to make myself a more presentable candidate?
    Last edited by ryanp1227; 11-27-2006, 11:23 PM. Reason: grammar

  • #2
    My advice is to forget about police work for now. Take the next five to ten years to establish yourself as a responsible citizen. Continue your education. Pursue a career that interests you and would be good for you financially in the long run. It would be a plus if the career is one that gives you a lot of public contact, so that you're accustomed to dealing with and understanding people.

    I do not generally recommend security guard jobs for somebody who wants to be a cop. If you must do something related to criminal law, there are a few retailers that have asset protection / loss prevention sections that are very well respected. If you can land a job doing fraud investigations for a bank or insurance company, that may be another good option.

    After five to ten years, if you still feel a strong urge to be a cop, reevaluate the situation. Think about your marketability as a police officer candidate, and more importantly, consider how a police job would affect you and your family.


    • #3
      don't give up hope...

      If your in Ohio, you'll have to go to the OSHP academy anyway (unless clevland has its own academy)...
      I'm a freshman this year in college, majoring in Criminal Justice, and I too look forward to becoming a cop asap. I've begun my networking as early as I can, and have spoken with, and personally met with the Kettering Police Department's chief, the Fariborn Police Department's chief, the top recruiting officer at the OHSP academy, the former police chief of the Fariborne police department, and so on and so forth. Your past will always come back to haunt you, at least thats what I've been told by all of them.

      When they go through the poligraph test they want to see a few things in you. If you've made it this far, don't give up hope. The OSHP academy has 9 "core values" that they like to abide by, and seeing as your in Ohio too, I figure this may help. The 9 values are:

      Sense of Urgency
      Team Oriented
      Attention to Detail
      Self Discipline
      Preformance Driven
      Officer Saftey

      Out of all of those, and from talking to the people that I have talked to, the one thing they always tell me is the "most important core value" is honesty. This is very true for obvious reasons in the recruitment process. This is also another reason why they usually do a background check; to validate your honesty. They ask you your past, they 'quiz' you on your past, and then they ask others about your past. That basically it. You've obviously shown leadership, repsonsibility, self dicipline, team orientation, and professionalism in your years of service in the army by being able to adapt from a PFC to a Sergant E5, and you've shown an interest in the field of Criminal justice with your 75 college credit hours in CJ.

      Really, all I can tell you is to be yourself. You've made it this far, and so far you've done well. Hold these 9 core values (I think they do cover everything an officer needs on and off duty to hold true to), and I think you'll be fine. Good luck, and I hope to see you out on the streets one day!!!


      • #4
        chaser, it seems as if you peg me as irresponsible and "iffy" about my dedication to public service. I respect your feedback, but why would you suggest I wait 5-10 years (until I'm 30-35) to pursue my goals? Why mention financial considerations when anyone looking into law enforcement clearly is not worried about the big payday? My legal troubles are already 13 years in the past, not to mention from when I was 12 and 13 years old. Is a police organization honestly more likely to believe I have become more "responsible" only after 18-23 years? What about my current situation suggests that I will not be viewed as a responsible citizen?

        Once again, I respect your feedback. My problem is that your response doesn't seem to address my situation. It seems more suited for a 21-year-old student who screwed up a lot in high school and isn't sure whether or not public service is a smart move for him/her. Thank you for suggesting I should give up, but what specifically is the problem? Did I do too much in the past, or not enough in the present?


        • #5
          Ryanp1227 -- I'll admit I may have overdone the doom and gloom just a bit. But, keep in mind that your offenses in the military were only five years ago, and that you will probably be competing against people who have never had anything that even resembles a criminal charge filed against them. And even though it happened when you were a juvenile, some of those charges are pretty hard to swallow. But it does sound to me like you're headed in the right direction now.

          As for the reference to getting a more conventional job first-- I think it's good advice that I'd give to anybody considering a police job. It's a good opportunity to save some money (maybe for a down payment on a house) before you dive into the marginal income of a LEO. And it will give you the basis to compare your police job to something else. That way, once you truly know what the job is all about, you'll have somethign to compare it against and make an informed decision on what to do with your life. I have heard it said that officers "grow old in a young man's profession," and this is true. Not many 45 year-olds are in professions that require them to chase kids, fight, shoot, work nights, weekends, and holidays, and show up on time for roll call. When you decide to become a cop, you are making a very big decision, and you have to consider the long term. Will you really want to be doing this when you're 45-50 years old? If you're 100% sure that you do -- go for it.


          • #6
            Only OSHP troopers go to the OSHP Academy... There is a basic academy there but not ALL departments go there.


            • #7
              Ryan, you're carrying quite a bit of "baggage" with you at present. The juvenile record you compiled will be accessed by any police background investigator. The financial difficulties you mentioned only compound the problems you experienced as a juvenile. The Article 15 in the Army didn't make your overall record look any better either. Much to your credit, you seem to be making a very substantial effort to turn your life around. Making Sgt (E-5) in four years is a substantial accomplishment. Your efforts at improving your credit score, as well as your education speak very well for you, and I hope you'll continue in these efforts. I'm not going to tell you not to apply. What I will say, is that you probably wouldn't be that much in the running for a LE position at present. That said, go ahead and apply, on the theory that the worst any agency can say is no. Remember that full disclosure of the problems you referenced to us is a must. Any willful ommission will DQ you. Keep up your very commendable efforts at improving yourself. You may yet have a shot.


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