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San Diego Police holds fair to hire more officers

People across the county got a chance to see if they’d make the cut at the SDPD Career Expo, part of the department’s big push to hire more officers and employees.

SAN DIEGO — Checking out all the options San Diego’s Police Department has to offer, Matthew Bookout-Varner of Escondido says he and his wife just applied to join SDPD.

“I feel like it is a good time for anybody to try to get into the police department. Seeing how much they are in need definitely motivates me,” said Bookout-Varner, a father of two.

With nearly 1,900 police officers on the force, SDPD says they are about 150 cops short and have lost a large amount of employees in the last three years.

“So hopefully those numbers do…People come out here today, and it sparks that interest, I hope they do join us and become a part of the department,” SDPD Detective Sgt. Travis Easter.

At the former Chargers Park practice facility, this is the first Pave the Way Expo Career Fair, where there are sworn in and non-sworn in officer positions on display.

“They’ve had interactions, they’ve been able to see the camp demonstrations, and they love the dogs, everybody loves the dogs,” Easter said.

Large dark blue and white tents showcased each department, including the S.W.A.T. team with all its tactical gear and big armored vehicles to parking enforcement and their communications division 911 dispatchers.

“Each One of these stations has a list of qualifications, so if somebody is interested in joining the department they can actually find out what they need to do to get here,” Easter said.

SDPD has been losing officers to smaller departments in the county and to other police agencies out of state that have a lower cost of living and higher pay and better benefits. Easter says SDPD’s cadet program is ages 16 to 22, and if you age out of the cadet program there was nothing else until they formed the Blue Arrow program, which is for adults who may have decided to become a police officer later on in life.

Suzanne Ellard of Carlsbad lead the recruit’s workout exercises as the only woman and at 41 years old. She’s walking away as a longtime customer service manager in Cardiff to start the six month academy this summer.

“I’m tired of sitting behind a computer all day. I want to get out there and be involved, excited and exhausted, just ready for change,” Ellard said.

“I think standing in line and you know with all of the attention stuff, that is slightly intimidating. I’m a little self-conscious about that, but the physical work, that actually sounds fun to me,” said Bookout-Varner, who once worked for the San Diego Humane Society and was interested in SDPD’s SWAT and K-9 programs.

SDPD requirements include 

  • There’s an 18-year-old age minimum but no maximum age limit.
  • Valid state or military issued ID
  • Pass a computerized entry level test
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Pass a medical exam

How much can an officer make?

The starting salary for a recruit in the police academy is $61,000 a year, after graduation, $72,000 a year, and after two years on the job, a police officer can earn $100,000 a year.

The police academy begins in June. For anyone wanting more information, click here.

WATCH RELATED: ‘They were outnumbered’ | SDPD struggles with staffing leaving 9-1-1 calls unanswered (April 2022).