The Galt, California, Police Department (GPD) recently launched a new program to cover academy expenses for police officer recruits.
Police Captain Richard Small said the purpose of the program is to compensate for the impact of the “Great Resignation” that has affected law enforcement nationwide since the start of the pandemic.
“There was a time in the past where you’d have potentially hundreds of candidates competing for one police officer opening because there was that much demand for people trying to get those kinds of jobs,” Small said.
However, Small noted that the labor market has seen a reversal over the past few years.
Now, the competition is mainly seen among agencies scrambling to hire applicants, with many offering a variety of benefits to entice qualified candidates.
In addition, because of the reduced applicant pool, many of those who do apply do not meet the strict standards for a career in law enforcement, which adds further strain on recruiting efforts. Applicants need to pass a psychological evaluation, have a clean criminal record and then pass a six-month training program at the police academy, which Small describes as “both physically and mentally demanding.”
“There’s a lot of hurdles to get to that position of police officer,” Small explained.
The GPD hopes that its recruit sponsorship program will increase its applicant pool and help the department compete with other agencies to draw qualified candidates.
Under the program, the department will cover the academy expenses of up to four police recruits, as well as paying their wages throughout the process.
Small said the department is also interested in attracting local candidates in and around the Sacramento County area.
“Some people who were born and raised here or in Lodi, or Stockton or Elk Grove, Herald or Wilton — you know, in the region — maybe they’re interested in serving their community in that way,” Small said.
The basic requirements for applicants are a California driver’s license with a satisfactory driving record, the equivalent of a high school diploma, completion of a physical agility exam and a score of at least 40 on the POST Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Battery (PELLET-B) exam.
The department plans to host the exam and the physical agility test in February, with the interview process starting shortly thereafter. The academy training would begin in May or June.
Small said the department especially values good character traits when deciding on whom to sponsor.
“What we can’t train is character, so we’re looking for people who have exemplified high character traits in their personal life, so honesty, integrity, self-discipline,” Small said.
Small said that despite the department’s small size, it offers a variety of resources including patrols, detectives, SWAT team and regional hostage-negotiation teams, as well as a drone program and a school resource program.
The manageable size of the department also means that officers may get more chances to work in different positions and gain a variety of different experiences.
“In my just over 13 years here now, I’ve been given remarkable opportunities to do a bunch of different things that I might not have gotten the opportunity to do anywhere else,” Small said.
Small added that the department is also looking to increase community engagement to boost recruiting. “As we do a better job of engaging our community and having those conversations about what law enforcement is about, what it should be about, where we’ve failed, where we’ve succeeded, and having those honest conversations, I think we’ll do a better job of bringing in better candidates,” he said.
Interested candidates can find the job listing here.