The San Diego Police Department recently tried a new approach to find candidates to join the force: challenge them to a workout.
Six police officers from various SDPD fields teamed up with six students from UC San Diego Athletics for a two-day “Next Level” training challenge. On April 10, the students visited the NTC Police and Fire Training Facility to participate in behind-the-scenes training scenarios like a physical agility test, driving a police car and SWAT target-shooting. Then on April 17, the police officers went to the UC San Diego Spanos Performance Center to compete with the students in a CrossFit-style workout complete with rope pulls, slack-line squats, and backward bear crawls up the stadium's steps.
“This is who we want to target to try to come on the San Diego Police Department. We want student-athletes,” said Lt. Shawn Takeuchi. “So we wanted to kind of give them an eye opener, and in turn, UC San Diego wanted to show off their nice training facility because they’re going to become a Division 1 school in 2020.”
According to Takeuchi, the number of SDPD applicants has gone down over the past couple of years, due to various factors like low unemployment rates and negative perceptions of police officers. A 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that there were 23,000 fewer officers in the U.S. than there were in 2013.
“The San Diego PD along with all the other agencies have the same hurdles to jump over as far as recruiting efforts. So we’re just trying to think of what else we can do to branch out about getting the word out that this is a great job. We’re always trying to think of ways to let people know that we are hiring at the San Diego Police Department.”
And it looks like it worked for at least one of the students. Kiefer Cooksey, a senior and player for the men's soccer team, plans to look into police recruitment after he graduates.
“Everything they do, it takes a toll on you,” he said. 'We take them for granted when they’re out there risking their lives for us every day. And it’s better than working an office job because you get to get out there and do new stuff every day.”
Anyone interested in finding more information about recruiting with the San Diego Police Department can visit sandiego.gov/join-san-diego-police-department.