The Anaheim Police Department is looking for a few good men and women.
On Tuesday, the City Council approved the police department’s $126 million budget, which includes funding for 10 new police officers and two dispatchers.
The challenge: finding people who meet the department’s high standards.
Capt. Mark Cyprien said the department recently filled an auditorium with 1,600 candidates. Only three qualified for a job offer.
“We never want to lower our standards,” Police Chief Raul Quezada said Friday during his monthly Police Chief’s Advisory Board meeting.
One place the department wants to find more police officers: the community.
“We want to hire more people who grew up here,” said Deputy Chief Julian Harvey. “That’s part of what’s behind our effort with Jr. Cadets and Explorers. We want to guide them regarding what those life decisions are that will prevent them from being hired.”
Quezada said his agency is partnering with the fire department to create a “Public Safety Career Pipeline” that will partner with Anaheim schools to provide technical instruction in policing, firefighting, forensics and more.
“In some neighborhoods, students do not have access to after school help with homework or computers,” Quezada said. “We intend to partner with the Anaheim City School District to provide personal homework assistance and computers through a Mobile Homework Workshop program.”
Investment in youth and overall community engagement are among the department’s priorities, he said.
Its Gang Reduction Intervention Program has grown to serve more than 2,600 from about 900 five years ago; its Jr. Cadet program graduated a record 414 students last month – up from 60 students a decade ago. Quezada announced the formation of a Jr. Explorer program that will target junior high school students.
“Investment in our youth, that’s where it begins,” he said. “Once the kid crosses the line, it’s a lot harder to get them back. But if we catch them before… we’ll have a much brighter future.”
The police department will add two officers to its Community Policing Team, an officer to the traffic team and plans to expand the number of officers in schools and neighborhoods to deter gang membership.
Last year the police department responded to more than 185,000 calls for service. Despite the number of calls and reduced staff, overall crime is down. So are complaints from the community, which dropped to 28 from 49 five years ago. The number of cases solved, or “cleared,” are up.
“The police department looks forward to continuing our efforts to form a stronger relationship with the community we serve; and to focus our efforts on the citywide strategic goals for engaged neighborhoods; a safe and secure city; a thriving economic climate; and responsive, efficient and well-managed city government,” Quezada said.