California Government Code §1031 says that law enforcement officers need a background investigation before getting hired. This investigation checks if a candidate meets the requirements for the job. The Background Unit handles this investigation. It's the applicant's job to give all the needed documents to the Background Unit. The investigation won't start until they have all the documents. If the background packet is incomplete, it will slow down the investigation.

This process includes verifying:

  • Identity

  • Education

  • Employment history

  • Criminal record

  • Credit history

Background Investigations will include interviews with family, friends, and relatives.


Following the successful completion of the Oral Examination, and the Physical Ability Test, the Background Unit will require the applicant to complete the P.O.S.T Personal History Statement and provide the following documents:

  • A certified copy of birth certificate.

  • Copy of registration with the Selective Service System. Men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register. Women are not required to register. Contact Selective Service, if needed at 1-847-688-6888, Website:

  • Copies of high school and college diploma(s).

  • Official sealed transcript(s) from high school and college or G.E.D.

  • All veterans will be required to provide a copy of DD214.

  • Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization Certificate, if born outside of the U.S.

  • Proof of Right to Work in the United States consisting of:

    • Employment Authorization Card

    • Social Security Card

  • Marriage certificate(s). (Certified copy or have your original with you at the time of the background interview, once contacted by an investigator.)

  • Dissolution/Divorce Decrees.

  • Copies of any restraining orders issued or filed.

  • Copy of vehicle insurance policy.

  • A recent photograph (passport size) is requested for identification purposes.

  • Certified copies of any bankruptcy proceedings.


Please click here to download a fillable version of the packet.

The Police Department Background Unit will also request the applicant to provide the following information, dating back over a period of ten (10) years:

  • Place of residence

Background Investigators will contact current and, where practicable, previous neighbors to determine whether the candidate has exhibited behavior incompatible with the position sought.

  • Names of persons the applicant resided with

  • Employment history (volunteer, full-time, part-time, etc.)

  • Names of coworkers and supervisors

  • Names of all law enforcement agencies previously applied to

Common disqualifiers:

  • Felony convictions

  • Serious misdemeanors

  • Current or past drug abuse

  • Dishonorable discharge from military service

  • Past or current gang affiliations

  • Unreported past crimes

  • History of domestic violence

  • False or incomplete information given on application

The Background Unit will notify the candidate if they are to move forward to the polygraph, medical and psychological testing phase. Successful candidates will be contacted by the Background Unit and provided with a conditional offer of employment and invitation to an Academy Class.

Background Investigation Unit
1245 3rd Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158


If you have questions about joining the San Francisco Police Department, use this form. One of our recruiters will reach out to you shortly. We look forward to hearing from you.

SFPD Recruitment Unit

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