Three San Francisco area police departments confronting a spike in violence — San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond — are struggling with the problem of finding and training enough officers to do something about it, says the San Francisco Chronicle. To recruit officers, departments are going on the road, offering thousands of dollars in incentives, paying for billboard and radio campaigns, and even poaching officers from other departments.
San Francisco is trying to hire 750 officers over three years. Oakland is hoping to find 100 officers by January. Richmond is trying to fill 48 vacancies, nearly a quarter of the authorized police strength. Statewide, just 2 out of every 100 people who apply to be police officers eventually get jobs. By 2012, law enforcement agencies around California will need to hire 68,000 officers, half to compensate for retirements. “The crunch is only going to get worse,” said San Francisco police Sgt. Larry Gray, who runs the department’s recruiting. “The Baby Boomers are all retiring, and they didn’t have enough children.” Keeping qualified applicants is almost as hard as finding them. Fourteen of the 50 recruits in San Francisco’s most recent Police Academy class washed out, half for personal reasons and injuries and half because their performance wasn’t up to par, Gray said. To improve the dropout rate, pre-academy preparation courses are in the works, emphasizing writing, physical conditioning and defense skills.