Thankfully, for the safety and security of the public, it is fairly easy to be disqualified from becoming a police officer.
Being a police officer comes with great responsibility, authority, and trust. Therefore strict standards are upheld in the selection process to ensure only the right candidates are hired. This process typically includes:
- A written exam
- Physical exams
- A psychological exam
- Medical exams
- A polygraph exam
- A background investigation
These tests serve to uncover the various reasons why an applicant would be unsuitable for a career in law enforcement. So, what exactly are the police agencies looking out for?
Potential Disqualifiers for A Policing Career in Canada
When preparing yourself for a policing career, you need to be aware of what will disqualify you from the police application process. As far as the written, physical, and medical exams, the requirements are fairly consistent across all agencies.
Language Disqualifier: You need to be fluent in either English or French including being able to speak, read, and understand one of these languages.
Physical Disqualifier: You cannot be in poor physical condition. Failure to successfully complete the physical examination in the minimum time frame is an automatic disqualification.
Test particulars can vary from one police agency to the next. However, all tests simulate critical incidents that police officers are exposed to. For example. the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE), used by the RCMP, consists of three sections:
- Running 6 laps around a 350 metre obstacle course where you are required to climb stairs and jump over hurdles
- Pushing and pulling a 70lb weight
- Carrying 80lbs over a 15-metre distance.
Psychological Disqualifiers: A candidate can be disqualified if they do not meet the minimum psychological examination requirements.
Work Environment Disqualifiers: Police departments require you to work shift work which includes nights, evenings, weekends, and holidays as policing takes place 24 hours per day. If you are unwilling to accommodate this type of work schedule, you will be disqualified from the process.
Medical Disqualifiers: If a medical examination shows the presence of a condition, treatment, limitation, or disease (such as colour blindness), this will interfere with the applicants ability to perform the job functions of a police officer. It will also increase risk to the applicants health or safety, or even expose the public or coworkers to risk. Therefore, the applicant will be disqualified.
What Do Police Look For in a Background Check?
The background exam is a very thorough investigation of the applicant’s past. It is common for the hiring parties to speak to colleagues, family members, neighbours, landlords, as well as present and past employers. This helps to determine whether you have a track record of high ethical standards in all areas of your life. You will be required to provide your criminal record, driving record, credit history, and history of alcohol and drug use. Additionally, you will need to pass a polygraph exam that shows whether you have been dishonest or deceitful in answering any of the questions throughout the application process.
When applying to police agencies, you will be disqualified if*:
- You have matters pending at a criminal court
- You participated in any indictable offenses. These offenses are the most serious of criminal activities, which include murder, sexual assault, and terrorist activities.
- You have a criminal conviction that has not been pardone.
- You participated in less serious criminal behaviour or activity within one year of applying. These activities are referred to as “summary conviction offenses” under the Criminal Code. They include illicit drug use, theft, and impaired driving.
- You have been dishonourably discharged or dismissed from any other law enforcement organization
- You have a pending or current personal bankruptcy
*Make sure you check with the requirements of law enforcement agency that you wish to apply to, so you can ensure there has not been any changes in policies.
While the list of disqualifiers is long for the policing profession, there are also a few untruths about things that are not actually considered in the selection process.
7 Myths About Police Career Requirements
Policing standards are high, but some people are under the impression it is not a viable career path for themselves based on a few common misconceptions. People often believe they will not be considered due to the following myths:
Myth #1: “I need to be fluent in French”.
French and English are both Canada’s national languages. You simply need to be fluent in one or the other.
Myth #2: “I’m not tall enough”.
In some countries, police candidates have to be a certain height in order to be considered. However, in Canada, height doesn’t matter as long as it does not impede performance on your physical exam.
Myth #3: “I need to have an athletic build”.
Applicants do not need to have any particular body type. All shapes and sizes are hired. Passing the physical exam is what is required of you.
Myth #4: “I’m too old”.
There is no maximum age to becoming a police officer. The minimum age is 18 or 19 years old depending on the province and policing agency.
Myth #5: “I need to have a degree in Criminology”.
While it works in your favour, the education requirements are the successful completion of high school and, in some cases, a minimum of 30 credits at a post-secondary institution .
Myth #6: “I need to be a Canadian citizen”.
You can qualify if you are a Permanent Resident of Canada.
Myth #7: “I don’t qualify because I did drugs in my youth”.
Most police agencies allow for some youth experimentation. Experimentation is evaluated on an individual basis and does not necessarily mean you will be disqualified. What will lead to disqualification, however, is denying that you ever had a past with drugs.
Increasing Your Odds of a Policing Career
If you are considering a career in Law Enforcement as an RCMP or municipal police officer, at the very least, you need to meet the basic job requirements. You also need to steer clear of any potential disqualifications. However, simply avoiding these disqualifiers will not guarantee you success.
To further increase your chances, we suggest gaining and improving skills relevant to law enforcement. These skills include:
- Verbal and written communication
- Conflict resolution
- Ability to perform under stress
- Working with diverse people in diverse environments
- Leadership, values and ethics
According to the Government of Canada, the job outlook for police officers in Canada over the next 3 years is “fair” in most provinces. Therefore, if you have dreamed of a career in policing it would be wise to put yourself in the best possible position to get hired through relevant work experience.
At Paladin, you complete the security industry’s top training programs and gain experience that law enforcement recruiters look for in police candidates. We are proud to say that over 20% of Paladin employees move on to a career in law enforcement.
Learn more about building a strong foundation for a career in law enforcement with Paladin.
Read similar blogs:
- How to Prepare for a Career in Law Enforcement
- Boosting Your Resume for Policing Applications
- How to Prepare for the Police Academy