Government Code Section 1031 requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to determine that “peace officer candidates are of good moral character, as determined by a thorough background investigation.” Civil Code 1798.15 requires that “personal information shall be collected to the greatest extent practical.” Additionally, Labor Code Section 432.7 requires that you disclose arrests or detentions which did or did not result in conviction, as well as referral to and participation in pretrial diversion programs.
The background investigation process consists of a thorough background investigation into each applicant’s past and current employment, residence history, relationships, credit responsibility, criminality, computerized voice stress analysis and fingerprint search. During this process CDCR will contact personal references, employers, education institutions, and law enforcement agencies to determine your suitability to become a peace officer.
Personal History Statement (PHS)
The PHS is an extensive document used to collect information regarding applicants past residences, acquaintances, and employment history. All candidates must submit their PHS, along with the notarized release (page 4), and other original documents upon check-in at the PFT. Candidates who are unable to provide a completed typed PHS document and notarized release will not be allowed to participate in the PFT and must contact their designated testing center no later than their appointment date to reschedule.
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All responses to questions answered within the submitted PHS will be verified through the background investigation and Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) examination.
CVSA Examination/Fingerprinting (LiveScan)
As part of the background investigation process, all candidates will be required to submit to a CVSA examination. The CVSA examination is used to verify the veracity and accuracy of information submitted by applicants regarding, but not necessarily limited to: use of controlled substances, driving, criminal history, employment history, and other suitability factors.
Candidates will be fingerprinted by Live Scan as a required part of the background investigation. Each fingerprint is scanned into a computer database at the Department of Justice and checked against criminal records nationwide. Information received may include charges that have been dismissed.
It takes approximately 90 days to complete the background investigation. A complex background investigation, or a background investigation with serious issues, may exceed the 90-day timeframe.
Examples of disqualifying information include: felony conviction, current firearm prohibition, currently on probation, or an active criminal warrant.
Examples of possible disqualifying factors discovered during this investigation that will be evaluated on a case by case basis include: misdemeanor convictions, certain serious traffic convictions or patterns of traffic law violations, failure to appear, driver license suspensions, driving under the influence, failure to comply with legal obligations, negative employment history, and substance abuse.
Illegal Drug Activity – An applicant’s experimental use of marijuana or other drugs may not be a disqualifying factor. The recency, frequency, and specific circumstances of illegal drug activity will be evaluated to determine suitability for employment as a peace officer.
Marijuana Use – The use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes is considered illegal drug use as mandated by the federal government. For CDCR’s policy regarding marijuana, review the Frequently Asked Questions.
Firearm Prohibition – An applicant with a current firearm prohibition cannot be appointed as a peace officer.
Pending Criminal Prosecution – An applicant who is pending criminal prosecution for any felony or misdemeanor crime cannot be appointed as a peace officer until a judgment has been entered.
Active Warrant – An applicant who has an active warrant (other than failure to appear for a minor traffic violation) cannot be appointed as a peace officer until the warrant has been cleared.
Dishonorable or Bad Conduct Discharge from Armed Forces – An applicant who separated from any branch of the Armed Forces with a Dishonorable or Bad Conduct discharge will be removed from the selection process.
Military Court Martial – An applicant convicted by a military court martial from any branch of the Armed Forces cannot apply until a minimum of three years have elapsed from the date of conviction.
Court Probation– An applicant who is serving any term of court probation will be removed from the selection process until the probation period has ended.
Misdemeanor Conviction – An applicant who has been recently convicted of a misdemeanor offense or multiple misdemeanor offenses may be removed from the selection process.
DUI / Wet Reckless – An applicant who has been recently convicted of DUI/Wet Reckless may be removed from the selection process.
Negative Employment Record – An applicant who has a recent negative employment record or an applicant with a recent termination for cause may be disqualified from the selection process.
Driving Record – An applicant with recent or severe traffic citations or multiple driver’s license suspensions may be disqualified from the selection process.