Police Department struggles to find qualified candidates

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Courtesy of the city of Chico

Along with fighting crime and protecting the public, the Chico Police Department is also dealing with the fact that it is losing more officers than it is gaining.

Because the limited amount of qualified police candidates, the department remains underemployed, said Chris Constantin, assistant city manager.

“A lot of people going into the academy can’t even make it past the written test,” Constantin said.

With an average passing rate of 50 percent, the academy program spends 23 weeks on 957 hours of instruction, 14 hours of scenario tests, several written tests and a total of $4,171 for all fees and materials.

“It’s very intensive,” said Mike Maloney, director of public safety education and training at Butte College. “In order to succeed, you have to be fully committed to the academy and nothing else.”

In fall 2014, the program started with 49 candidates and graduated only 33. Of those that began in the program, 11 failed, four left on personal and financial reasons,and one was dismissed for disciplinary reasons, he said.

“We run into some ethical issues with individuals not telling the truth, and that is something we don’t allow,” Maloney said. “There is no room for liars in the Police Department.”

Most of those who graduate from the Butte College Law Enforcement Academy look to the Chico Police Department for employment.

Since July 2013, the Police Department has lost 21 officers and gained only 15, Constantin said.

According to the the human resources department, Chico currently employs 60 police officers, which comes in at less than the budgeted allowance reserved for 67 police personnel.

Junior communication design major Shaye Quam said, “With all the violence going on recently, I feel like more police officers would make people feel a lot safer.”

In attempt to increase the amount of police, tChico and the Police Department have recently swayed from the traditional hiring process.

They are now working on hiring more qualified officers more quickly than before, Constantin said.

“We have to compete with other police departments to get the good, qualified officers first,” he said.

Michael Arias can be reached at [email protected] or @mikey_arias on Twitter.