SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- While cities in the Bay Area struggle to recruit and retain police officers, the San Jose Police Department is finding success.
ABC7 News was granted an inside look as the 48 members of Academy Class 36 underwent final inspections Wednesday morning after more than six months of training.
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"You're going to have the support of your city leaders, you're going to have the support of your community, and you're going to have the support of your rank and file in your police department," said Chief Eddie Garcia. "You can make a difference here."
San Jose is in the midst of a re-build after political turmoil in the first half of the previous decade resulted in the department shrinking by more than a third to just over 900 officers. However, department leaders credit a renewed commitment from city hall, as well as improved relations in the community with helping to make SJPD more desirable to potential applicants.
Rita Perez recently graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in business administration but has dreamt of joining SJPD since high school. She's now just one week away from being sworn-in as an officer.
"In addition to being born and raised here, this is my home," said Perez. "I want to be here helping the people of San Jose, so that's what kind of drew me in."
Of the last two police academy classes in San Jose, approximately 73% of recruits have gone on to finish their field training to become street-ready officers. Retention has also held steady in recent years, with retirements accounting for the majority of departures, rather than transfers to other cities. Greg Woods, San Jose State University justice studies lecturer, says these are all positive signs.
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"We have a long term commitment to a strategic recruitment and retention plan that is on-going and we're seeing that it's paying off now," said Woods.
Back at the academy, there's a sense of pride and optimism as recruits get ready to move forward in the process of becoming a police officer.
"We run into so many situations they have to have a lot of tools in their bag, and multiple hats that they can put on at any time," said Lt. Stan McFadden, who leads the police academy for San Jose.
Many residents agree that this community will soon be safer, thanks to these men and women who answered the call to serve.
"They want to be police officers and they want to take the criminal element off the street," said Garcia. "So to the extent that we can do that in a fair manner, I'm going to support that 100%, and I think they know that."
San Jose Police Department sees recruitment success
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