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The Background Investigation

California Government Code 1031 requires that all peace officers be of good moral character as determined by a thorough background investigation.  A comprehensive investigation explores a candidate’s employment, pre-employment, arrest/citation/conviction, legal, military, financial, driving and educational history, including information that might otherwise be privileged and/or confidential. 

Candidates who successfully pass their Physical Agility Test will be given a Background Investigation packet with instructions and documents to complete prior to their Oral Interview.  These completed packets must be submitted by the candidate at the time of the Oral Interview. As part of this process, candidates must furnish required documents.  Because it takes time to acquire some of these documents, candidates are encouraged to begin collecting them as soon as possible.

Once a candidate successfully passes the Oral Interview and is ranked on the Exam Certification List, the Background Investigation Unit will select candidates to continue with the process.  If a candidate is selected, a background investigator is assigned.  The investigator’s role is to conduct an objective, thorough and legally sustainable investigation focused on: 1) both positive and negative job-related information, and 2) the accuracy of information received from all sources, including the candidate.  The investigator's job is to gather facts.  Investigation results are then evaluated by the Department’s hiring authorities.

The only information to which candidates have access during and after the background investigation is the information which they personally provide.

A key document used during background investigations is the DPR 895A Personal History Statement (PHS) (see link below).  Candidates may type, print or electronically complete this form.  A printed copy of the PHS is provided in the Candidate Packet.  An electronic Word-version can be downloaded for completion.  However, a completed form must then be printed, individual pages initialed, and signed personally submitted by the candidate at the PAT.
 
PHS - Word version (use fillable form)
PHS - PDF version (non-fillable printout form)

The key to “passing” the background investigation stage is complete honesty.  There are very few automatic bases for rejection.  Even issues of prior misconduct, such as prior illegal drug use, driving under the influence, theft or even arrest or conviction are usually not, in and of themselves, automatically disqualifying.  However, deliberate misstatements or omissions can, and often will, result in a candidate’s application being rejected, regardless of the nature or reason for the misstatements or omissions.