It is common for people to have criminal backgrounds. In fact nearly one-third of American adults have been arrested by age 23. However, not all convictions prevent you from obtaining a job in law enforcement, especially in Wisconsin. While each jurisdiction and agency has specific regulations, generally speaking, individuals with felony, and certain misdemeanor convictions/arrests will be disqualified from becoming a law enforcement officer. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (Wis. Stat. 111.321, 111.322, 111.335) prohibits discrimination based on a conviction record unless the circumstances surrounding the conviction are substantially related to the circumstances of the particular job. This could mean those who have been arrested or convicted of less severe misdemeanors still have an opportunity.
The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board requires that candidates:
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have a valid Wisconsin driver’s license
- Possess a two-year associate degree, or 60 credit hours from a technical school or other law enforcement major (within five years of employment). Fox Valley technical college and UW-Oshkosh have criminal justice programs!
- Have never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony
- Are at least 18 years of age
- Undergo a thorough background check and fingerprinting
- Pass a physical examination from a licensed physician regarding physical fitness levels
- Pass a psychological examination by a licensed psychiatrist
Still have questions? Our skilled Fox Valley and Oshkosh attorneys are here to help you. Individual departments additionally have their own guidelines. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the criminal justice system to keep your career options open in the future.
The specific convictions vary from state to state but the types of offenses that may disqualify a person from becoming a police officer include the following:
- Use of a controlled substance, other than marijuana, at any time
- Use of marijuana within the past three to five years
- Sale of any controlled substance at any time
- A felony conviction
- Revocation or suspension of driver’s license in the past three years
- Conviction for a sexual offense
If you have questions, you should reach out to our Fox Valley attorneys at 920-739-9900 or our Oshkosh attorneys at 920-231-0699.