‘Have you ever used illegal drugs?”
Many police test candidates find this question challenging. At the end of the day, many young people foolishly take drugs. It is almost as if it has become part of growing up. It may even have been your only ever use of illegal drugs. So, what should you do – and more importantly – what should you not do?
Candidates must – under all circumstances – be honest with the oral board panel.
Yes, you may have taken drugs in the past and this may even exempt you from proceeding with your application, but the alternative is far worse. For instance, if – upon taking a polygraph exam – it is discovered that you had lied, this would disqualify you under the worst possible circumstances. There may even have been an understandable context as to why you took those drugs. If, later in life, you were a regular user of the most illicit substances, it may well simply disqualify you. If so, the polygraph will fish out any lies that you may have told the panel.
However, if you admit to your past use of drugs, the oral board may allow you to proceed if you have demonstrated that you have learned from and acknowledged your mistake and that it’s not something you would ever consider doing again. The oral board panel appreciates this level of honesty. After all, honesty is one of the qualities that makes for the most optimum and loyal kind of police officer.
Most candidates, of course, will not have taken illegal drugs – so the answer to this question becomes far more straightforward for those candidates.
Here is our sample answer.
“Yes, I took cannabis and mushrooms when I was 15-years old. However, that was my only use of drugs. I was of course a teenager, did not know what I was doing, and, in my peer group, it was considered normal.
It was not until several years later that, upon looking back at that moment, I feel a sense of embarrassment to have been tried it as well as having been easily pressured by my peer group.
Since then, I have never taken any other drug. I do not even smoke.
So, whilst I acknowledge that this is a past failing, I have learned from that mistake and now I do not act in accordance with what my peer group – or any other group for that matter – expect but, instead, do what I know to be right”.
Remember – when police officers ask you the question, “Have you ever taken drugs?” – they understand that drug use today among youth is far more commonplace than it once was before.
In fact, it would be more surprising to find candidates who have never tried a drug – however mild – compared to those who have tried.
The oral board panel understand this, and want to see honesty in your answer, and a certain degree of maturity, too, that you have advanced personally and maturely, and that you have evolved from and learned from any past mistake.
Each police department and their panel come to their own conclusions based on drug use and what type of drugs were used, how regular this use was, and whether you were convicted of any crime. So, there is more nuance here to consider – but, what matters, is that you are open, honest, and demonstrate that you have learned from your mistake and would perhaps even hope to work with the community and youth sectors to try and deter them from using drugs.
You can present in front of high school teenagers and share your experience with them – and how it could have had the potential of shipwrecking your career goals. Again, this is something that would resonate with the oral board panel and bring your answer to the very next level.
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In the meantime, check back to our police officer blog soon for more great content to help you make the most of your preparation in the weeks and months leading up to your police officer exam.
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