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  • Just getting started...

    Hi All. First off, congrats on a very informative forum.

    I am 26, female, and currently work mall security. Believe it or not, i really love my job - its the first time in my life that i've ever gotten that "rewarding" feeling and gotten paid for it at the same time. I've worked there for almost 2 years now, but unfortunately one cannot raise a family on $10 an hour so i am forced to continue on in my career quest. I have a high school degree.

    To be honest, before i took this job i had never once in my entire life considered a position anywhere related to law enforcement. i grew up in a household with a lot of disrespect for the police, and i was always told that "only uneducated, power-hungry idiots" worked in the field. As i have worked closely with our local PD these past 2 years, i have learned rather quickly that that is just not the case. I have an enormous amount of respect for the guys i work with, and after many hours of thought on the subject - i've come to the conclusion that this is a profession that i couldn't be more honored to get into, and think i would succeed in. But then the typical i suppose occurs - i take a step back, examine my background - and wonder if i have a chance in hell of getting hired on anywhere.

    Like i said, i never even considered the field of Law Enforcement until 2 years ago. Obviously there are things i have done in the past which i would have thought more carefully about if i had known the career path i would be taking down the road. I wonder if life experience counts for anything vs. your typical 22 year old applicant who has wanted to be an officer his entire life, and has an AAS in Criminal Justice. Obviously, i will have more blemished on my record than he will.

    Here goes:

    1.) I have worked 6 completely different jobs in the past 7 years, 3 being transitional month-long retail stints out of financial desperation. I have had some bad experiences, but every position i have worked i have rapidly advanced and my work ethic has never come into question. Also, there is a 2 year gap in employment directly before my current employment where i got married and started a family. But you're not supposed to put those things in an application, are you? How would you suggest i address this issue? Do you think the fact that i have a young child will weigh negatively against me?

    2.) I have lived in 7 different places in 7 years. My financial situation has been pretty terrible. Off and on public aid at some points. I've never been evicted though, and with the exception of one bad year i have paid the rent on time.

    3.) One particularly bad year 3 years ago, i ended up getting a string of "no city sticker" tickets on my vehicle that i chose not to pay/could not pay at the time. My vehicle eventually ended up being booted, and i borrowed the money to pay the fines. I've paid that off.

    4.) During that same period of time, i was on unemployment after having been laid off, and literally just barely scraping by. Part of it was ignorance, but i know that is really no excuse. I took a job at a video store which i could tell imeediately wasn't going to last very long. I was right, i only worked there 3 months. But i was under the impression that if i discontinued my unemployment insurance i would not be able to get back on it, and i needed it in order just to pay the rent until i could find a stable job. So i continued to file unemployment claims while i worked at the video store (i figured the govt. would just bill me and i would pay it back, no big deal). I ended up being fired from the video store job due to customer complaints which were 100% related to poor store policy (long story). I don't mean to sound flippant but there honestly was nothing i could have done to avoid the complaints, and the store had a "3 strikes you're out" no-questions-asked policy. Some time later i ended up getting a letter in the mail saying that it appeared IDES overpaid me by roughly $2800 in unemployment compensation. I have never heard another word from IDES, and never gotten a bill.. so it was just easy for me to forget about it. It hasn't been repaid, and i'm not even sure how much it is.

    5.) I tried marijuana TWICE, out of pure curiosity around 4 years ago. My fiancee's coworker at the time was a big pothead, and he and my fiancee got into a discussion about it one day where he told him that he had never tried it, but was curious to know what the big deal was all about. So the coworker gave him a tiny amount, and he brought it home and we tried it together. Didn't do anything at all for me, but i didn't throw out the remainder. At some point roughly a year later i found it and figured i'd give it one more try rather then just throw it out. Again, it didn't do anything for me. That was it. Additionally, a year ago i was hanging out with some friends who are professional j*** musicians (who smoke pot occasionally). One of them offered me a hit and i thought about it for a second and then i realized that it was a really stupid idea so i just gave it back to him. I know that polygraph questions ask you about recent marijuana use - and even though i didn't actually smoke any, i wonder if the fact of my anxiety over that i considered it would cause me to flub that answer on the test.

    6.) 9 years ago, i had just gotten my driver's license and decided to take a cross-country road trip with my then-bf. I ended up getting either a Reckless Driving or a Careless Driving citation (i dont recall the name, and it has since been expunged from my records). It was a $380 ticket, and the only way i could contest it (and i would have won had i contested it) was by being present at court. Basically, the officer accused me of trying to run him off the road. He said i crossed the yellow line (which i did, to avoid his cruiser striking me!). He was going probably twice the speed limit up a rural mountain highway without his lightbar on to a call, and he nearly caused me to hit another vehicle as he flew around me. He didn't even pull me over until 20-30 miles further down the road. Obviously, i was 3000 miles away from home and could not stay in some random state for a month just to make a court date. I went home and paid it, and forgot about it completely traumatized by the experience. But i've read that even though it's been expunged by now, a background check will still show it... so i'm worried.

    Those are the things i'm worried about. I've been through a lot of difficult situations in my life and i've overcome all of them... and i'm still working at it. But i'm just kept up at night by the thought that i have *finally* found what i was meant to do with my life, but that i might never get the chance due to things in my past.

    Also - one last question. As far as traffic citations go - i even went so far as to get an abstract of my record printed from the DMV. I know i had several tickets after i got my driver's license 9 years ago, but i seriously don't remember any details about them at all, other than my first ticket. They're older than 7 years so i cant view the state records anymore. How am i supposed to list "ALL" of my citations when i genuinely don't remember them and i cant look them up? Will it be held against me if i write "Possible additional citations between 1998-1999, but do not recall any details." ? Same goes for employment details - some older jobs i don't recall the exact starting/ending dates, or what i was paid. Is it okay to just put a question mark next to what i think they were, or should i go through the trouble of calling up all of my old employers for exact verification? Please keep in mind that 2 of my older jobs are no longer in business.

    Thanks all. I will be happy to clarify anything i happenned to leave out.

    ALSO - any suggestions on what i could do to make myself more employable? I have a friend who works in the County Jail and says they'd hire me in a minute. Would working corrections help? How about an online degree? Or should i simply just try to keep the same job for more than 2 years at a time? I welcome ALL suggestions. Thank you.
    Last edited by SimplyMe; 05-25-2007, 11:34 AM.

  • #2
    Lemme try to help the best I can...

    1. Your work history sounds excellent, however they WILL ask about your gap in employment, just tell them the truth. They usually have a spot for that in the background packet.

    2. Why was your financial situation so terrible? They will ask you on the background packet to list all your old residences, be sure to remember the dates approximately you lived in each.

    3. They might consider it a lack of respect for the law, but it was three years ago and you paid it off. I was fired three years ago for flipping off a camera, I know but I've changed since then and matured to be a better person, PROVE to them you're the same way.

    4. In the background packet, you will be asked about terminations or suspensions from jobs. Be honest, tell them the truth, but what they really want to see is if it was your fault that you take the blame for it and don't shift it elsewhere (responsibility).

    5. They will ask you on the packet to fill out drugs you've taken, especially marijuana. Be honest, the thing is that you're over that phase hopefully and haven't tried it recently, which shows you've matured.

    6. Tell the truth, if the officer was driving recklessly, you won't be blamed for wanting to avoid injury. The truth as they say will set you free.

    7. Place on packet for citations, if you don't remember details, tell your background investigator.

    8. I currently go to school for a cj degree while working security while applying for LASD. The thing is I'm 19.5 years old and single. It's ALOT of work to go to school for a degree, work and apply all at the same time. Most depts will help pay for schooling after you get on the dept, see if the one you're applyin for will.


    • #3
      This is to help you when you get to the Oral Interview Phase

      Be Prepared
      Investigate the position
      Read the Recruitment Literature
      Talk with Deputies
      Consider participating in a Ride-A-Long Program
      Take a Jail Facility Tour

      Areas of Evaluation
      Your interest in the position
      Your appearance, grooming, and attire
      Attitude and demeanor
      Communication Skills

      Possible Areas of Questioning
      Departmental knowledge
      What do you understand to be the duties of a Deputy Sheriff?
      Why do you want to be a Deputy?
      Why did you choose Law Enforcement as a Career?
      What have you done to prepare yourself for the position?
      What will be the most challenging aspect for you in becoming a Deputy Sheriff?

      Duties of a Deputy Sheriff
      Demonstrate interest in the position by your familiarity with the duties of a Deputy Sheriff: Assists in supervising the conduct of inmates, preservation of life, recovery of stolen property, preserve public peace, detect and arrest violators of the law

      Appropriate Grooming
      It is not mandatory but it is helpful if the canidate meets Departmental grooming standards. Remember First Impressions ARE important.

      Be polite and courteous
      Make eye contact with board members
      Be honest
      Take time to think before you speak


      • #4
        Getting Started

        Reading your post, I see some potential "red flags" that will no doubt pop up. The employment history isn't really all that bad, although it certainly could be better, as in more stable. The same is true concerning your residency moves. Consistantly not paying the "No City Sticker" citations would concern me. Understand, it's not a moving violation, or one likely to cause an accident. It is, however, a requirement of the city you reside in. Your ignoring the citations demonstrates a lack of responsibility. I'm not too worried about the marijuana use, provided it was as you described. You appear, at least to me, to have a pretty cavalier attitude toward the money you reportedly owe the state. The fact that the state hasn't "billed" you for the funds is really immaterial. You've all but admitted you owe the money. THAT would be a very significant "red flag" if I where doing your Background, or sitting on your Oral Board. My suggestion to you is to repay the state the money you owe them. Do that prior to submitting any applications to any law enforcement agency. I'm not knocking Mall Security forces anywhere, but you have to know, that the hiring standards for law enforcement in general, are going to be considerably higher. I'm not telling you not to apply. I am suggesting you get rid of some "baggage" before doing so. It is also going to be necessary for you to fully disclose the issues you have mentioned here, on your SPH, or Background Packet.


        • #5
          what PhillipCal said and .......... some time to pass.

          take steps to show you've grown, changed, taken on responsibility, etc.
          stick at the job as long as you can, get good marks - do your best to avoid those red flags mentioned by PhillipCal...

          good luck
          ''Life's's tougher if you're stupid.''
          -- John Wayne


          • #6
            Other than what Philical has posted, I read a tremendous amount of justification and rationalization in your post. Be sure to drop that stance before applying and talking to a BI or oral board. Take responsibility for your actions, don't place any of the blame on a boyfriend, police officer or anyone else. You did the bad, accept that and be honest about it. I would pay the State the debt you owe before submitting any application. Just my two cents here. Good luck.
            Honesty Pays, Dishonesty Costs, ARE YOU IN DEBT


            • #7
              Thank you all

              I know i opened myself up to a considerable amount of criticism when i posted here and i'm thankful for all of your replies. I apologize if i sounded like i was putting responsibility elsewhere for my actions - I do understand what i have done wrong. It is difficult trying to be concise about all of the details, while also trying to somewhat get across my mindset at the time.

              I do realize i have no excuse for not paying off the unemployment. I suppose i'm just terrified of calling up the state as saking the question "So, what do i owe you?" I do plan on taking care of that before i put in any applications anywhere - as my thread title implies... i'm just getting started. I'm just glad to know that i still have a chance.

              About the no city sticker tickets. I suppose i was a little jaded - my life was pretty horrible at that point. The electricity, gas, and television were shut off for the majority of that time period - and then the police officers were coming by and writing me tickets on a nearly daily basis for parking in front of my own house. A vast majority of the time i had not the money to buy milk, let alone pay a $25 fee. I was pretty ignorant of social services at that point so i didn't know food stamps could help me out. I made a choice and i'm not trying to justify my actions. Its been paid off so i hope its water under the bridge now. And like i said before - this was at a point in my life where i had no idea what career path i would be taking... i was simply just trying to eek by. I realy don't believe the lack of me paying these tickets demonstrates bad will towards the system - had i had the funds to pay the tickets, i would have. I have never neglected to pay any other citations or fines i have recieved.

              Thank you all for your suggestions. It is at least comforting to hear that at least i have somewhat of a chance, so long as i work on some things. I'm just concerned with my age - i'm already 26. Most departments around the area have a max. starting age of 35 or so.

              And to clear up about my poor situation... i was involved with an abusive relationship. I am an only child and my parents and family are of no assistance. He couldn't hold a job for more than a few months at a time, and basically wanted me to do all of the work to support the household despite the fact that he has a college degree, and i don't. $8 an hour jobs don't pay the bills in the area, unfortunately. I'm done with all of that now - and now i'm not looking back, only looking forward. I've resolved those issues with him and with myself. Right now all i'm concerned about is being the best example for my son that i can possibly be, because i know his father is only going to let him down in that department.

              Thanks again, and sorry for the sob story. Thank you all for doing what you do.


              • #8

                Do you think any of this would prevent me from obtaining a Dispather position?


                • #9
                  Getting Started

                  Originally posted by SimplyMe View Post
                  Do you think any of this would prevent me from obtaining a Dispather position?
                  I refer you to the advice previously offered by all responders to your original post.


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