Many youngsters grow up with the idea of becoming a police officer. Whether it is the desire to work in law enforcement or for the uniform they wear, it is a common childhood dream.
For some, they realize this ambition, while for others it fades with time and life experiences.
There are those who turn away from their childhood ambition by engaging in a life of crime. One thing becomes another and those once honorable life’s dreams come to a sharp ending with that felony conviction.
It can leave some wondering how they got there from a former honorable desire to become a police officer.
However, there are felons who still have that desire to become a law enforcement officer.
The big question is, can a felon become a police officer after serving a sentence?
This blog post will look at the question of whether a felon can become a police officer.
- Guidelines for Becoming a Police Officer
- Factors Against Hiring Felons
- Felons May Return to Their Criminal Ways
- Supporting Felons Finding a New Career
Guidelines for Becoming a Police Officer
The guidelines for becoming a police officer are up to the jurisdiction in each state to enforce. In each state those with a felony conviction are prohibited from becoming a police officer.
A felony arrest will not make it impossible to become a police officer. Most with a misdemeanor on their record are also typically denied employment as a police officer.
For certain minor misdemeanors, there may be a chance. But almost sure disqualifiers are such things as crimes of violence, perjury, or theft.
In many areas, anyone convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, such as assault with bodily injury or a second DUI, is permanently disqualified while a Class B misdemeanor, such as drug possession or a first DUI in the past 10 years will result in disqualification.
In California, for example, a background check requires that all legal records be examined, including ones that have been expunged.
Factors Against Hiring Felons
One of the reasons for the extreme difficulty in becoming a police officer as a felon is that if felons were allowed to be police officers, their legal records could be released to the defense for almost any case they are involved with, a major handicap in the legal system.
Of course felons are not allowed to own a firearm. Even if they have this privilege restored, many jurisdictions across the U.S. state that anyone who has ever been restricted from carrying a firearm is ineligible to become a law enforcement officer.
There are certain traits considered to be important for police officers to have. These are sometimes called the five I’S: integrity, intellect, industry, initiative, and impact.
This means police jurisdictions seek to hire those who are honest and ethical, intelligent, unafraid of hard work, able to think independently, take charge, and make a positive impression on people.
Felons do not tend to be perceived as having these qualities.
Felons May Return to Their Criminal Ways
The fear is that applicants with a felony conviction are at high risk for returning to a life of crime.
With 67% of those incarcerated returning to prison within the first two years following their release, there is a significant concern of a continued pattern of criminal activity. This is an image police departments do not want.
There is likely to be major concern among the general public if it became known that there were convicted felons on the force. This could easily erode trust in law enforcement. This is something to be avoided at all costs.
There are cases across the U.S. in which jurisdictions have hired felons as police officers. This has happened either because of an intentional violation by police authorities, an incomplete background check not showing a felony record, or felon applicants lying about previous convictions that go undiscovered.
There are many instances in which police officers have been fired after their criminal history came out into the open or because they committed new crimes after becoming a police officer.
Childhood dreams die hard even those involving becoming a police officer. A criminal history is one of the surest ways to destroy that dream.
Supporting Felons Finding a New Career
For families of felons who have wanted to pursue a career as a police officer, it can be difficult to let go of. Be there for your loved one as they move forward in their life after release from prison.
Encourage them to look toward other ambitions and goals for a career. It is challenging to find employment, but not impossible.
Don’t let them become discouraged and become part of that that 2/3 statistic of those who return to prison within the first two years following their release.
What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a police officer with a felony? What was like for them, and how did they deal with it? Please tell us in the comments below.