San Diego

Largest SDPD Recruiting Class in Last 25 Years: Mayor Faulconer

59 San Diego Police Department officers graduated from the academy on Thursday

SDPD Photo
San Diego Police Department

"You're going to make a difference," is what San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer told the 59 San Diego Police Department officers graduating from the academy.

The department is celebrating its largest recruiting class in a quarter of a century.

"So, a lot of these people had prior military experience, and they have a college education, prior work experience for long periods. A lot of resumes we see they bring a lot of quality and talent to this police department," said SDPD Lt. Steve Waldheim.

Waldheim, who heads up the backgrounds and recruiting unit, believes Thursday's graduation ceremony could be a turning point with recent retention challenges.

Dating back to 2006 - the department has watched the number of sworn officers dip below budgeted levels. They're still nearly 200 officers down, but their goal is to get 50 recruits in every police academy.

They hold four a year - and at this pace, factoring in retirements and other departures, they'd be up to full staffing in just three years.

"The mayor and the police chief have made this a top priority so that pay raises are now very competitive with other agencies in southern California," Waldheim said.

The department also recently turned to social media as a way of reaching the next generation of applicants.

A video on YouTube involving a social media influencer generated 4.3 million views in just the past two months. As a result --last month, the department's website saw a record amount of traffic.

These new officers will start this Monday working the next four and half months in with seasoned officers before they can head out by themselves.

The department has another academy currently underway with 44 recruits.

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