Good Resume Builder/Entry Level Experience Gone Wrong
Bit of background - I recently received my bachelors in Criminal Justice (yea, I know what everyone thinks about the degree), did an internship while completing the degree with a large PD which is what got me interested in becoming a cop, have a pretty clean background (no traffic violations, never been charged for any crime, did pretty standard stupid shit in college, no drug history, etc) and have been applying to a few PDs trying to get hired but have been unsuccessful so far.
Shortly after graduating I managed to land a job working for a local municipal PD (about 30 sworn employees) doing what amounts to being a jailer/booking officer. I was responsible for anything related to prisoners including final searches of arrestees before entering the jail, intake, booking, fingerprinting, feeding, inventorying property, bonding them out, etc. I wasn't classified as a correctional officer or anything quite official as that but essentially performed the same functions at a smaller scale. When I wasn't doing anything related to prisoners my position was responsible for a large number of overflow records work, typing the narratives for reports which the sworn officers dictated onto cassettes, receiving cash for releasing towed vehicles and for bonding out prisoners. The job was what I considered to be the perfect entry level gig and an outstanding resume builder to show PDs that I was serious and had gained at least some valuable experience and give me a leg up on my peers.
However, to make a long story short, after receiving $400 for a vehicle release and placing the money and paperwork into the proper locked dropbox the money went missing. It was determined that a side of the plastic envelope that I had placed the money into never got heat sealed (though I was certain I had checked all of the edges) and the money couldn't be located inside of the dropbox, meaning someone had likely stolen it. There was no video surveillance of where the money was dropped into and I immediately became public enemy #1 in suspicion of taking it due to having been the person who handled it last.
There was a small internal investigation regarding the matter and then it was passed off to our county sheriff's office to conduct a full on criminal investigation. I voluntarily submitted to a poly and supposedly they poly'ed and interviewed a few other civilian employees who had access to the locked dropbox but in the end the investigators were not able to prove I did anything criminal but because they never figured out what happened to the money or who took it they couldn't definitively say I hadn't done something criminal. As such, our Chief decided that since I was a probationary civilian employee and they couldn't be sure I was innocent that I had to get the axe.
Which leads me to the entire point of this thread, I'm stuck in deciding if I should even bother to pursue LE after this fiasco. I will obviously have to list my previous employer on my applications and BI paperwork and when listing why I'm no longer employed there I am more or less forced to say that I failed to complete probation (which is what I was advised by my previous PD to do as they knew I was actively attempting to become sworn). That will then raise questions and I suspect my suitability for a sworn job will be questioned when I couldn't even complete probation as a civilian employee. I was also advised that if I am asked why I didn't complete probation to say I failed to follow procedure (being 100% sure the money was secure) which resulted in a $400 loss to the department and that it warranted termination due to the fact I was on probation.
So, am I psyching myself out more than I should or is this really as bad as it looks for my future applications?
tl;dr - Got a civilian job working for a PD, was responsible for handling cash, some cash went missing, couldn't prove I did anything criminal but couldn't prove I didn't do anything criminal so I got the axe due to being on initial probation, am I screwed from getting into LE?
im so happy i don't work for a small department. Either there is more to this story or they handled the matter horribly!
My advice keep applying I had a friend who had a similar incident happen to him with a small chickenshit department (sounds a lot like yours) he ended up getting terminated but got hired with a large PD a short time later.
Just be honest about it and be ready to get drilled with questions.
I, too, have been screwed by stupid bullshit in a small department. (Politics in my case––no violations of law, policy, etc.) Don't let it discourage you. Keep trying. Look into a reserve or part-time unit, as they are excellent ways to get your foot in the door with a good department.
ETA: Once you are hired on, document EVERYTHING! Even if SOP doesn't require it, or your supervisor tells you it isn't necessary. I document all my calls/activity each shift, make a towed vehicle inventory, write a report each time a warrant is served, etc., even though my department doesn't "require" it. Much easier to do a few minutes of paper than face an undeserved punishment. Even if you have to create your own "unofficial" form, do it!
Also, once you're in, consider joining the PBA/FOP/whatever is popular in your area. They can be of immense help during situations like the one you faced.
It's good you were terminated while on probation, because they don't have to give a reason and won't for terminating you (simply, UNSUITED).. I would simply submit a letter with any background investigation packet explaining that you were polygraphed and no finding of guilt was made, and that you would be happy to address it in their polygraph exam. Was there any violation of internal policies on cash handling involved? If so, admit that you made an administrative rules violation, no biggie. Sounds like they're covering for somebody whose daddy is connected or contributed to the right candidate, or used to be an officer there, etc... Better you really work on getting back into LE now and establish a good reputation. Trying to re-enter LE after being away is very difficult in the current state of things...
I would secure a copy of the ENTIRE investigative file from ANY and ALL agencies involved. Keep it and make copies to submit as "supporting documentation" when you apply to other places in the future.
Bottom line is this: honest mistakes happen in this line of work. IF, and I do say IF, you make a mistake, the cost of $400 is quite small compared to other FU's in this line of work. Be honest and offer FULL DISCLOSURE to any place you apply. Tell your side of the story as you did in this thread... you BELIEVED you did your part but it's also POSSIBLE you slipped up BUT that does not change the FACT that SOMEONE stole the money... it DID NOT go missing... it was STOLEN.
Potential employers are going to see it one of two ways... you're a risk or someone on the inside butt-fucked you on your mistake and you got left "holding the bag". With my experience, the latter is more probable. This is why there usually is a TWO-PERSON policy when dealing with cash...