Vallejo police hiring to catch up with impending retirements
Posted in the Vallejo Forum
#1 Jan 23, 2013
Vallejo police hiring to catch up with impending retirements
With upcoming retirements, the Vallejo Police Department might reach its lowest number of officers since the mid-1970s.
However, police officials are assuring the public that the hiring process for new officers is under way.
The police department has funding for 93 sworn officers. Five more will be financed by Measure B, a 1 percent sales tax that Vallejo voters passed in 2011.
With recent attrition, the force now has 87 sworn officers, said Lt. Lee Horton, head of the Vallejo Police Bureau of Professional Standards.
By April, the department is expecting three former Vallejo police cadets to join the ranks, with one scheduled to begin work as soon as Monday.
The three new officers will raise the number to 90. However, the department is expecting at least six retirements by May, Horton said.
That will reduce the force to 84 officers, the lowest since 1973 when it stood at 85, a veteran officer said. At the time, Vallejo's population also was about 40,000 fewer than today.
At its peak, the department had 143 sworn officers in 2008, shortly before the city entered Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
"This is new territory," Horton said, "But we'll do our best, and we'll continue to work as best as we can to provide service to our community."
Horton said he hopes to fill all positions in the next six months, contingent on any more retirements.
A few residents have voiced concerns that the department is not attracting any candidates.
Horton disputed that, saying that since the application period opened at the end of last year, the department has received 162 entry-level, and 26 candidate applications with at least one year of experience. Eleven of the entry-level candidates, chosen based on their qualifications, were interviewed Monday, he said.
He added that he expects more applicants by early February.
"We are getting a lot of candidates," Horton said. "It's just a tedious process."
Horton said each qualified candidate goes through a four- to five-month process. It includes a polygraph test, a background check, psychological test, and a medical examination. The battery of tests costs the department about $3,000 per candidate.
Once a person passes, the hired officer then will spend about two weeks observing on the job, followed by about five months working with training officers. The officer is then on probation for up to 18 months.
Horton said even then new hires don't always make it through the training program.
"Some people are just not cut out for this kind of work," he said.
Such uncertainty makes it that much more challenging for the already short-staffed department, he said.
"It is difficult, because we want to make sure we get the best possible people as soon as we can," Horton said. "But when we get the right people, it's very rewarding."
There also have been instances when the hired candidate changes his or her mind at the last minute, which could set back the process, he said.
Financial and staffing constraints prevent the department from hiring a lot of people at once, Horton said.
"We don't have the financial means, and we don't want to overwhelm the training officers," he said. "We have to go through the methodical process that we're set up to do, and try to keep up the best we can."
#2 Jan 23, 2013
There were supposed to be thousands lining up to work here according to cop critics. The 162 responses were for the special 5 officer recruitment, and that yielded only entry-level interests. This corresponds with the comment in the draft AHCPSC report about recruiting of laterals to be problematic. What about the other Open Continuous recruiting? Looks like we will end up restaffing with rookies requiring extensive training, who will be most likely looking for opportunities elsewhere when they are ready to hit the streets solo.
#3 Jan 23, 2013
Whine, Cry, Dry your tears.
First you said no one would come. Now you complain 162 for 5 slots is not enough.
The use of laterals hurt this City as they work relatively few years before retiring. The rookies will be better cops as they wont have the negative attitudes of those retiring.
#4 Jan 23, 2013
YOU said thousands would apply to work here because the pay was the best in the state. But at least you corroborate that recruitment of experienced officers is a problem. OBTW, this is the same pattern with City Managers, they come here to top up their PERS and haul ass. I would rather have experienced cops on the streets then a department of rookies, but that is just my opinion.
#5 Jan 23, 2013
i agree that the entry level applicants are not committed to a long career here. the new rookie police force will be very fluid, imo. we will become a practical skills training facility, then they will bail to places where they are welcome and not under attack by elected officials.
#6 Jan 23, 2013
last night i hear the man say he was afraid to be in his neighborhood and he is a prison guard!
#7 Jan 23, 2013
What a crook. The pay is some of the best and they now have a good Chief.
#8 Jan 23, 2013
oh, so they will stay here for an entire career and NOT develop these attitudes you speak of? crazy!
#9 Jan 23, 2013
Well, we have to start somewhere!
It is heartening to see that three of our cadets, whom we already invested in, are indeed able to return to Vallejo after completion of the Academy.
So we will have some rookies beginning their careers here in Vallejo ...and may I point out that none of our present officer came to our town years ago with their present expertise and professionalism! Experience comes with exposure and continued learning, none of us have it when we enter this world, and they did not either!
Those of you who proclaim that Vallejo may be just a stepping stone to better things, well ask those that have put in years here despite of it all ....and yet they remained! Thanks officers!!
May I add that the "public" only voiced concern about the alleged inability to attract.... because the sunshine did not quiet reach far enough to inform timely and appropriately.
Good or bad residents of this town want to know if we are able to get additional law enforcement officers patrolling our streets, obviously for different reason, but we all want to know!
As to the rest of City Hall employees:
Personally I do not care who is working where, how many degrees they have, etc.
Can they rise to the challenges before them? Are they able to give an at least monthly report during council meetings in person so we are informed and no future time consuming diversion happens again?
Obviously council members are informed before the general public about what is cooking, but I believe I also have the right to know, in due time, what's on the menu .... and not only after the facts are fed to individuals who are private citizens just like myself, more connected but not much more.
None of us should have to ask what is happening at City Hall and at the council level, especially when it concerns an issue that is of utter importance to every person living here, i.e. safety from the criminal element!
A simple response from our CM during his agendized slot would have cleared the air:
Can we attract and hire qualified individuals that will bring our police force to numbers that will allow them to not only keep a level of law and order without endangering themselves but also are able to respond without triaging the calls from residents of this City?
It is apparent that opinions differ about this issue and I can listen without judging those who believe otherwise. I rest my case!
#11 Jan 23, 2013
you are an idiot and 100% wrong. vallejo will be a stepping stone for rookie cops and they will go else where, where it is more financially stable once they get a year or so of cop experience. so they can be a lateral work 25+ yrs at another city. that is what will happen!!
#12 Jan 23, 2013
We were happy to see Vallejo as a stepping stone for you grissle..how is your job in Richmond?
#13 Jan 23, 2013
What do you base your opinion on?
Your assumption that entry level applicants and once hired, "employees" will not be committed to perform their chosen trade to enforce the law is not only an insult to their chosen profession, but to me personally as a taxpayer.
There will always be a certain percentage of employees who will leave for greener pastures (some will even return) due to personal circumstances etc., but to make a blank statement that they only hang around to get adequately trained and then because of that have the ability to land a "better" job somewhere else is questionable.
They are all POST certified to even be able to work in CA and the hard core experience will come with time and continued training. I do give you credit for stating that we are a skill training facility!
The hostile environment you portray may be a thing of the past, at least I hope so. Challenges continue to exist in the best of work places, but as a department that is tasked to keep peace and order (you may note I did not state to "Serve and Protect" as that is no longer the case) they do not have to have a love-in to perform what they were hired to do.
We will see what the future holds!
#14 Jan 23, 2013
basically, we have some personnel in the pipeline to plug a hole in the boat, but what about beyond that? what is the plan? can we get that $3.2m from p.b. and pay it back as projects are approved? i would like plenty of patrol cars on the streets this summer as a deterrent.
#15 Jan 25, 2013
Ok, so we can afford what 90 "experienced" cops or hire rookies (like every other city in America) and afford another 20 instead of 10? Which do you want? More cops or more "experienced" cops? You don't get both. If you are able to balance your own freakin checkbook you can figure that out. Name 1 Police Department made up of exclusively "experienced" cops and I will show you a rich neighborhood. You can always move there.
#16 Jan 25, 2013
assuming they would stay here an entire career, we would have an almost all veteran force in 10 or so years, right? problem is, with our uncertain economic future, they will move around to more stable jurisdictions.
#17 Jan 25, 2013
Huge assumption. That also ASSumes we hire no new officers for 10 years. I know of no city that has an exclusively veteran Police force. Officers that stay in the same city for 10 plus years are the minority.
#18 Jan 25, 2013
sammie, as long as you waddle up to the podium to flatulate your stinky opinions we will always have and uncertain stinky future.
#19 Jan 25, 2013
ah, hah! so it would be better to have a mix of veterans and rookies, right, otherwise it's always a force of rookies that skip town after they get experience. is that how you would staff it?
#20 Jan 28, 2013
ah hah? Common sense is your big epiphany? Just as there are no departments with all veterans, there are none with all rookies. I didn't realize I needed a crayon to explain this.
#21 Jan 28, 2013
??you just contradicted your own rant in post 15. keep the crayons for yourself.
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