Background Standards

The Background Standards for public safety positions in the City of Los Angeles reflect the very high standards demanded of candidates for public safety job classifications and safety sensitive positions within City service. They are designed to identify the kinds of behaviors which are required of public safety officers serving the citizens of the City of Los Angeles. Each candidate's past choices, judgements, and behaviors will be compared to these demanding standards. Candidates who fall short of demonstrating consistently sound decision making, maturity, and responsible past behaviors in each of these areas will not be further considered for employment in these critical positions.

Each Standard represents an area that is essential for success in public safety employment. The City identifies and selects only those individuals with the highest chance of success in their training and in continuing employment in these critical positions. These are highly competitive examinations, with many more candidates than there are positions available in City service. Candidates who are disqualified from employment in these critical positions are asked to remember the highly competitive nature of these examinations and the demanding criteria described below. In each category, some examples of potentially disqualifying behavior are identified. These examples are designed to give candidates a sense of what behavior will be judged as inappropriate, and are not designed to be an all-inclusive listing of disqualifying behavior. Candidates are asked to critically assess their own background in light of these Standards before beginning the examination process. Click here to review the Information Guide on how you can enhance or impede your chances of becoming an LAFD Firefighter.



Public safety officers must be able to draw on extraordinary levels of tact and diplomacy to achieve their goals while dealing with the diverse population of the City of Los Angeles. They must be able to use advice, appropriate warnings and persuasion to engender cooperation from the public. Additionally, they must be able to work effectively either as an individual or as a member of a larger team. Each candidate shall demonstrate an understanding of the skills necessary to deal effectively with others in a cooperative and courteous manner. Desired behaviors may include, but are not limited to:

  • Understanding the impact of words and behavior on others, and modifying one's own behavior, comments, or course of action accordingly
  • Concern for the feelings and perspectives of others
  • Demonstration of impartiality in dealing with issues of age, gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, religion, and cultural diversity
  • Use of tact and diplomacy to achieve goals, resolve disputes, and to diffuse or deescalate conflict
  • Ability to work effectively as a member of a team, making appropriate contributions and recognizing the achievements of others

Examples of Potentially Disqualifying Evidence - Incidents of domestic violence; use of verbal or physical abuse or violence toward others indicating a lack of self-control; inability to get along with others in work or personal life; failure to listen effectively; use of derogatory stereotypes in jokes or daily language; making rude and/or condescending remarks to or about others; use of physical force to resolve disputes; demonstrated overreaction to criticism; inability to work effectively as a "team player"; disruptive/challenging to authority; use of harassment, threats, or intimidation to gain an advantage.


Public safety officers must possess extraordinarily good sense and must demonstrate through their past behavior that they can analyze a situation quickly, make sound and responsible decisions, and take appropriate action. Desired behaviors may include, but are not limited to the ability to:

  • Critically analyze options and determine an appropriate course of action in a given situation
  • Act assertively and without hesitation, but without overreacting
  • Make quick, responsible decisions under pressure
  • Persuade others to own point of view or to desired course of action
  • Know when to make an exception; exercise appropriate discretion
  • Prioritize competing demands
  • Simultaneously and appropriately address multiple tasks
  • Make appropriate choices without constant supervision or detailed instructions
  • Creatively develop innovative solutions to problems

Examples of Potentially Disqualifying Evidence - making poor choices given known circumstances; indecision when options are not clear-cut; failure to take action when appropriate or demonstrating insecurity about making a decision ; behavior indicating poor judgement or failure to consider appropriate options; failure to learn from past mistakes; inability or unwillingness to modify a position; rigid adherence to rules without consideration of alternative information; failure to see or consider all options; succumbing to peer pressure.


Public safety officers must present a background which demonstrates maturity and readiness for such employment. Their past choices must be free from behavior inappropriate to the position being sought. A significant degree of personal discipline must be displayed to ensure that candidates can consistently refrain from taking actions which may be detrimental to their own health and well-being or the health and well-being of others. They must be able to maintain their composure and stay in control during critical situations, maintain a positive attitude, and accept constructive criticism without becoming defensive. Desired behaviors may include, but are not limited to the ability to:

  • Refraining from engaging in conduct which, by its very nature, would reflect poorly on the City and limit a public safety officer's ability to do his or her job effectively
  • Adhering to legal and societal constraints and requirements of conduct
  • Considering the consequences prior to taking an action
  • Accepting responsibility for past actions and mistakes
  • Taking proper precautions and avoid unnecessarily risky behavior
  • Using constructive criticism to improve performance
  • Working well in unstructured situations with minimal supervision

Examples of Potentially Disqualifying Evidence - use of illegal drugs; abuse of alcohol or prescription medications; failure to follow all laws and common rules of conduct; associating with individuals who break the law; being argumentative, defensive, or blaming others (or circumstances) for mistakes made; past behavior which indicates a tendency to resort to use of force to gain objectives; overbearing in approach to resolving problems; unnecessarily confrontational taking unnecessary personal risks; placing others at risk through one's own actions; reacting childishly or with anger to criticism or disappointment.


Public safety officers are required to demonstrate the highest possible personal integrity through their honesty and ethical conduct. They must be able to maintain high standards of personal conduct, abide by the law, and demonstrate attributes such as truthfulness and fairness in relationships with others. Each candidate must demonstrate a willingness to work within "the system". Examples of behaviors which meet this standard include, but are not limited to:

  • Being truthful in dealings with others
  • Fully cooperating and being completely forthcoming during the pre-employment selection process
  • Admitting and understanding past mistakes
  • Refraining from using employment or a position of authority for personal gain
  • Refraining from "bending" rules or otherwise trying to "beat the system"
  • Accepting responsibility for one's own actions

Examples of Potentially Disqualifying Evidence - makes false and/or misleading statements or intentionally omits relevant information; purposefully withholds information; minimizes past mistakes or errors; blames others/makes excuses for mistakes; attempts to induce others to give false information; "bends" the rules or uses a position of authority for personal gain; refuses to accept responsibility for improper actions; condones the unethical behavior of others through silence; engages in illegal or immoral activities of such a nature that would be offensive to contemporary community standards of propriety; theft; fraud.


Public safety officers are required to demonstrate the ability to set and achieve personal and professional goals. Candidates for public safety positions can best position themselves for positive consideration through continuing achievement in the workplace, educational environment, volunteer activities and/or community involvement. Each candidate must demonstrate initiative and the ability to follow through on all commitments without constant supervision and detailed instruction. Candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to set and achieve goals, their ability to work in a diligent, reliable, and conscientious manner in accordance with specific rules and policies, and their readiness for, and commitment to, public service through the following:

  • Advancement in the workplace through promotion or increased responsibilities
  • Completing work as required and on schedule
  • Meeting high standards for punctuality and attendance
  • Meeting family obligations


Candidates for public safety positions are held to exacting standards of behavior throughout all aspects of their lives. Candidates can expect specific inquiry to be made into their past behavior regarding:

  • The exercise of fiscal responsibility and acceptance of responsibility for financial obligations
  • Employing safe driving practices
  • Maintaining stable employment
  • Obeying laws, rules, regulations, and orders
  • Military accomplishments

Examples of potentially disqualifying evidence - past due accounts, discharged debts, late payments, collection accounts, civil judgments and/or bankruptcy; failure to exercise fiscal responsibility commensurate with income; failure to follow all traffic laws; numerous moving and non-moving violations; at fault traffic accidents; terminations or suspensions from work; reprimands or counseling for poor work performance (including Military service); failure to meet obligations (for example, auto insurance, auto registration, selective service registration, IRS requirements, child support obligations, etc.); law enforcement contacts, arrests, and convictions (as appropriate); other than Honorable discharge from the military.

It is in every candidate's best interest to be completely forthcoming and truthful during the background investigation process. Purposeful omission of information thought to potentially result in removal from the selection process, can be detrimental. The failure to provide complete, accurate, and honest information is interpreted as dishonesty and lack of integrity about one's character.