Drivers on southbound Interstate 5 near Naval Base San Diego can’t miss the billboard on the right sponsored by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The sign advertises the upcoming Military-Veterans Career Fair, while San Diego Police staffing is at its lowest level in a decade.
“This is actually going to be our first military-veterans career fair that we're sponsoring by our department,” said Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Hedge.
Hedge said his department is looking to fill hundreds of positions; 400 alone for a new correctional facility in Indio.
“Everyone is trying to recruit the best for their agency," Hedge said. "As well as Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
“Everyone” includes the San Diego Police Department. Last month they posted a video on YouTube advertising “America’s Finest,” asking possible candidates to come see what SDPD has to offer. The advertisement comes at a much-needed time when SDPD’s record-low staffing level is projected to continue to decrease.
This isn’t the first time SDPD faced competition from outside the county. In early December, recruiters from the Austin Police Department visited San Diego, dangling salaries close to $70,000 after a year of service.
When asked about the new competition, including the billboard, San Diego Police Lt. Kevin Mayor said, “We are all competing to hire the very best."
“Mayor Faulconer understands the recruitment and retention crisis in the police department and has taken steps to address it," said the press secretary for the mayor’s office. "He included $3.2 million in this year's budget for retention efforts."
That’s in addition to funding 172 police recruits - 36 more than last year.
The question remains – will that be enough with more offers now on the table?