While the department has received thousands of applications from candidates looking to become officers, many of them don’t move on because they can’t pass an extensive background check.
“It’s very difficult to go through the process,” police Capt. Michael Rock said.
Another hurdle in the department’s recruitment efforts is that other law enforcement agencies are also hiring, which has diminished the pool of qualified candidates.
The department has met with military personnel and visited high schools and colleges in an effort to recruit new officers, he added.
“Everyone has been going after the same group of kids,” Rock said.
Even though department officials struggle to fill vacant positions, Sgt. Patrick Magtoto said they will not lower their hiring standards in their search for exemplary candidates.
The department has hired 29 officers since January 2009, but 57 officers retired during the same period, he said.
Still, the background examination has been the greatest obstacle for candidates.
Candidates, he said, should begin thinking about their actions and behavior at an early age if they want to become officers. Any lapses in judgment or carrying on a reckless lifestyle preclude applicants from becoming officers.
“To me, it’s a life-long job to be a police officer,” said Magtoto, who works in the department’s Professional Standards Bureau.
The pool of candidates shrinks as the hiring process move forward.
After candidates apply online, they must take a written exam, but many of them don’t end up taking it or passing it.
Candidates who succeed in the written exam must undergo a physical agility test and pass an oral exam to advance to the background check.
After they make it through the background check, they must pass medical and psychological tests to continue on to the 26-week police academy.
Background investigators closely examine candidates’ financial and driving history, education, employment, their home life and whether they have a criminal history. Visible tattoos are also an immediate deal breaker.
Candidates are also required to undergo a polygraph and answer a series of lengthy questionnaires.
But investigators also look for candidates who have learned from their mistakes.
“You have to have both competency and character to be successful in law enforcement,” he said, adding the successful candidate must be honest, intelligent and demonstrate strong morals.
Anyone who has questions about recruitment or wants Magtoto to talk about it with their organization is asked to call the department’s Professional Standards Bureau at (818) 548-3117.
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