Background Investigation for Prospective Applicants

The Chicago Police Department strives to attain the highest degree of ethical behavior and professional conduct at all times. In fact, our core values are:

Professionalism: Our on and off duty conduct reflects both the highest standards of police service and personal responsibility.

Integrity: We are committed to the highest standards of honesty and ethical conduct.

Courage: We uphold and follow the law in the face of fear, danger and temptation.

Dedication: We are driven by a sense of personal duty to our work and the Department’s Vision, Mission Statement, and other Core Values.

Respect: We treat each other and the communities we serve as we would like to be treated, with compassion and dignity.

Accordingly, we seek to hire qualified applicants who share our mission and values. Information indicating that an applicant engaged in criminal conduct; exhibited behavior demonstrating a disregard for standards of conduct; shown disrespect for authority, the law, and its institutions; engaged in discriminatory or biased behavior; or engaged in conduct demonstrating a propensity for dishonesty or untruthfulness may result in an applicant being disqualified from the application process.

Applicants for the position of police officer are subject to a pre-employment investigation, including a polygraph examination. Pre-employment Investigation Standards for applicants to the position of police officer include, but are not limited to:

Disqualification Based on Criminal Conduct: Applicants will be disqualified from consideration for a police officer position if there is evidence that the applicant has engaged in criminal conduct, even if the applicant was never convicted of a criminal offense:

  • Conduct Involving a Felony
  • Conduct Involving Drugs: criminally selling, delivering, receiving, possessing, or using any controlled substance
      While the Chicago Police Department does not condone prior unlawful drug use by its applicants, we recognize that some otherwise qualified candidates may have engaged in limited drug use at some time in their past which will not necessarily result in disqualification. However, an applicant who misrepresents his or her history of drug use during any stage of the employment process will be disqualified.
  • Conduct Indicating Dishonesty: conduct demonstrating a reputation or propensity for dishonesty.
  • Conduct Indicating Violent Tendencies
  • Conduct Involving the Unlawful Use of Weapons
  • Conduct Affecting Government Functions: including treason, interference with public officers, interference with penal institutions, interference with judicial procedure, and official misconduct.

Disqualification Based on Driving Record: Applicants are required, to the extent reasonable, to operate vehicles in a careful manner protective of the public. Applications with a poor driving history are deemed unable to meet this requirement.

Disqualification Based on Prior Employment History: An applicant’s steady employment history is an indication that, among other things, an applicant has the ability to work well with others; follow workplace rules; perform his or her work to acceptable standards; and come to work on time and on a regular basis.

Disqualification Based on Military History: An applicant who has received a Dishonorable Discharge or Bad Conduct Discharge will be found unsuitable for employment. An applicant who has received a discharge with other characterizations may be found unsuitable for employment based on the nature of the underlying offense.

Disqualification Based on Membership or Association with Criminal Organizations: An applicant who is a member or affiliate of any criminal organization may be found unsuitable for employment.

Disqualification Based on Indebtedness: Police officers are occasionally required to handle significant amounts of currency in the execution of their duties. Any applicant who has excessive current personal debts, not related to mortgage loans, student loans, auto loans, or a business may be found unsuitable for employment. Any applicant who has defaulted on any loan or has an inconsistent payment pattern may be found unsuitable for employment.

  • Any applicant who owes a debt to the City of Chicago at any time during processing will be given a reasonable amount of time to clear those debts. Any applicant who owes a debt to the City of Chicago at the time of hire will be found unsuitable for employment.

Disqualification Based on Other Conduct: Any applicant who has engaged in conduct that exhibits a pattern of repeated abuse of authority, lack of respect for authority or law or lack of respect for dignity and rights may be found unsuitable for employment.

Disqualification Based on False Statements or Omissions and/or Failure to cooperate in the Application Process: Applicants are required to cooperate with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department in all matters relating to the processing of their applications for the position of Police Officer. Prohibited conduct within this category includes, but is not limited to: failure to provide any required information; failure to respond to requests for information in a timely manner; failure to respond to requests for interviews in a timely manner; failure to fully disclose all known information requested; and making false or misleading statements in connection with any part of the application process.

Disqualification Based on Insufficient Contacts with the United States: The Chicago Police Department does not base employment eligibility on citizenship of the United States or any other country. While eligibility for employment does not depend on citizenship or national origin, we do require that an applicant establish sufficient contacts with the United States to enable the Chicago Police Department to conduct a thorough pre-employment investigation.

Disqualification Based on Polygraph Results: Honesty and credibility are vital characteristics for police officer to possess in order to ensure the integrity of police operations and investigations and to protect the public and maintain its trust in the police. Honest and complete answers to background questions asked of applicants during the application process, as well as full cooperation with the application process, are thus extremely important to the maintenance of the Chicago Police Department’s force and the integrity of its hiring process. Applicants may therefore be given a polygraph examination. The polygraph examination is used as a tool to elicit information and verify responses elicited during the application process and to verify information collected during the pre-employment investigation. The results of the polygraph examination will be used as part of the hiring process in determining an applicant’s suitability for the position of Police Officer. Admissions made during a polygraph examination, or an indication of deception, along with other factors, may be used as a basis for disqualification.