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Oakland police officers in Calistoga, California, in 2017.

Police Recruiters Have a Few Questions

Have you ever run away from home? What’s your most unusual sex act?

The Oakland, California, Police Department has faced criticism for asking potential recruits whether they had ever been victims of sexual assault. This week Mayor Libby Schaaf ordered the question be dropped as excessively invasive.

But a sampling of the background questionnaires required by police departments in several cities suggests that few corners go unprobed. And prospective cops are often warned that their answers may be checked with a polygraph.

“We ask for complete honesty,” said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, spokesman for the Seattle Police Department, where applicants are asked, among other things, to disclose whether they have ever had sex in the workplace. “We know that people aren’t perfect. What we are looking for is honest disclosure and demonstrated ability for personal growth.”

Here are some of the questions would-be police can expect.

Cincinnati Police Department Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee, Police Department Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Department Richmond, Virginia, Police Department Milwaukee Police Department Seattle Police Department Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J. Police Department

This story has been updated to reflect that a question formerly posed by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department of police applicants about whether they have ever been a communist was dropped in 2017.

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