Fresno PD is down about 40 police officer positions

Fresno PD is down about 40 police officer positions

FRESNO, Calif. - There is a shortage of police officers in Fresno and the department said it's having a hard time filling those slots.

Currently, there are about 40 police officer vacancies with Fresno PD. Since 2014, the department has hired about 80 officers a year, according to Fresno Peace Officers' Association President, Damon Kurtz. But, the agency still can't get back up to full staff.

"It was a calling for me," said police academy cadet Alma Hernandez. "Ever since I was a little kid, I liked playing cops and robbers. I was always a cop."

Hernandez knew at an early age she wanted to become an officer, but Fresno PD said they can't get enough applicants like Hernandez.

Each month, Kurtz said they receive 10 applications for the job, but not everyone can pass backgrounds and training.

"We're losing four to six [officers] a month, so we have to hire that many just to stay status quo, and we're having trouble keeping up," said Kurtz. 

Kurtz said they're losing officers to retirement, and other agencies offering competitive pay.

This comes at a time when the murder rate in Fresno has nearly doubled. 

One reason they may not be getting as many applicants, Kurtz fears, is the bad light shed on officers nationwide.

"People like to be liked and being a peace officer isn't a career that a lot of people like," said Hernandez.

Many of the cadets know they're in demand and have jobs lined up after graduation.

"Agencies up and down the Valley, there's a huge hiring," said cadet James Kelly. 

Police academy coordinator, Jim Edison said there's been no shortage of students enrolling in the academy. He's seen a lot of interest and all of his academy classes at Fresno City College are full.

"We are having agencies from all over the state come here to recruit," said Edison. "They're all trying to draw from the same pool of applicants."

Hernandez will stay in the Valley to work for Fresno State PD. 

"It's a great career, retirement is great," she said.

Kurtz said Fresno PD has a recruitment team that goes all over the state. The department even offers $10,000 signing bonuses for new officers with experience.

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