Photo by Sarah Bennett
On Monday, the City of Long Beach announced that it is now accepting applications for Academy Class 87--the second police academy since 2009 that will help the force replenish officers lost through attrition.
The 27-week course will teach cadets criminal law, investigating techniques, report writing and cultural sensitivity while at the same time challenging them both mentally and physically. Once they graduate, recruits will be partnered with a field-training officer where they grow their knowledge and experience during a 12-month course.
“A career in law enforcement is one of the most challenging and demanding professions in today’s society and we are excited that we have another opportunity to seek out the best and the brightest, who will ultimately serve our community,” Police Chief Jim McDonnell said.
The city was forced to abandon hiring new officers from for four years due to budget constraints, but because of an influx of one-time funds, annual retirements and position savings within the department, the city is now accepting as many as 50 applicants for next year’s class. A first class of cadets is currently in training and will graduate next year.
“Prudent fiscal management and pension reforms have positioned us to hire police officers again,” Mayor Bob Foster said in a police press release. “These cadets will add to the ranks of highly skilled, sophisticated department that is among the best in the nation.”
According to an article posted by KPCC, the current ethnic composition of the city’s police force is 53% white, 31% Hispanic, 9% Asian, 6% African-American and 1% American-Indian. Training Division Commander Randy Allen told KPCC that the department would like to hire more women in this class, especially women of African-American and Asian descent. However, he maintained that the desire to improve both diversity and the number of officers who speak multiple languages wouldn’t eclipse LBPD's hiring standards.
"We have one hiring standard," Allen said. "Quality people with integrity who have the desire to serve Long Beach. Having said that, we would like to increase the number of black, Hispanic and bilingual officers serving the community."
Allen stated that prior to 2008, the LBPD had about 1,020 sworn officers in its ranks but now only has about 820 due to normal attrition. Both the academy that started in May and Class 87, which will start in 2014, will look to offset those losses and maintain the number of officers the city currently budgets the force to employ.
"At this point, it’s just maintaining the number of officers we are budgeted to have," Allen said of the academy’s potential graduates. "We have an attrition rate of about 30-40 per year. And when you factor in the training attrition rate, we are just maintaining our current force."
Interest in what have become rare training academies became apparent when the department received over 3,000 applications for the class that commenced in May of this year. Allen said that with the much larger application window and an increased level of recruiting by the department, Class 87 could receive more that that. Historically though, the academies receive roughly between two 2,000 and 3,000 applicants.
Persons interested in applying can view the age, education and citizenship requirements at www.longbeach.gov/civilservice or by calling 562-570-6202. Applications will be accepted until September 13.