The ins and outs of hiring new police officers

HPD’s Lt. Glen Brock explains it all

Hemet Police Department
(left to right) Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown, Officer Alex Reynoso, Deputy Chief Charles “Rob” Webb, Officer Dylan Vrooman, and Officer Eric Lynton at the “Chief’s Luncheon” hosted by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Academy in December where Brown spoke to recruits about ethics in law enforcement. Reynoso, Vrooman and Lynton’s official hire date was July 5, 2016; they graduated the academy in December 2016.

■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

“To get a police officer on the streets from hiring to [active] duty depends on several different things,” said Lt. Glen Brock, Hemet Police Department’s public information officer. “It depends on where they come from, whether they are pre-service, or a lateral officer.
Pre-service means they have never been a police officer and lateral indicates that they come to the force from another agency where they have worked as a law enforcement officer. Pre-service candidates take the longest to hire, vet and train.

“First, there is the hiring process, which takes a long time,” explained Brock. “Then comes the vetting, which involves background checks through the FBI and other organizations to ascertain if there is any criminal background. All of this can take as much as six months to a year to complete.

“Without previous service, a recruit will spend six months in training at the Police Academy,” continued Brock. “When he or she comes out of the academy, they are assigned to the street where they go through a four-to-six month training program with a training program officer. So from fresh start to finish, it takes quite a while for a recruit to become a brand new officer on the street.”

How about the more seasoned lateral officers?
How long does it take to get them out on patrol?

“Lateral officers, however, get on the streets quite a bit quicker – in about two months. They have already completed an academy, so they don’t have that six months to endure,” said Brock. “The [lateral] training program generally moves along faster because of the experience these officers bring with them. And if you know how to be a police officer in any California city, you will be able to become a police officer in Hemet. The only thing you will need training on is our policies and procedures, which may be somewhat different than those in other California cities.”

How do you deal with out-of-state recruits?
“I don’t know the ins and outs of which states do and don’t have the same training requirements as California. For many states, if you move into California you can take a post-test to qualify to be a police officer in California without going through another academy,” said Brock. “That’s not true of all states. However, most of them you can. We’ve hired officers from Colorado and Massachusetts who came here and took the California equivalency test, passed and were certified to be a police officer in California.”

How many officers are in training today?
“Five or six in training right now I believe. We have an additional three in various stages of the academy program.”

Where is HPD essentially recruiting from now?
“It is important that we hire the right people. We go through hundreds of applicants in order to find a prospect that will be right for us,” stated Brock. “Out of the officers for staffing that have been approved through Measure U funds, we’ve hired all but two of the police officer positions. From those we’ve hired eight lateral officers from various California agencies and other states. They bring 86 years of experience with them. That’s experience that other departments paid for. Now, the new hires, because we’re very picky about who we hire, were all graduates in the [upper] third of their academies, which is something to be said. We work hard to make sure we bring on the right people because our community is a special place and deserves the best officers available.”
When Chief Brown in April held the War on Crime press conference at Weston Park, he said that lights and cameras would be installed in the park.

Any progress there?
“I don’t know a date, but the camera portion is referred to our community camera program,” said Brock. “I believe it has been approved, but it is not under my purview so I can’t give you any date for certain.”

How many unsolved homicides do we have in Hemet right now?
“I have no idea,” admitted Brock. “I would direct you to the Supervisor of Investigations for that information.”

From what I have ascertained, San Jacinto has a much lower crime rate than Hemet.
Is that true?

“The first two quarters of 2017, the latest information we have, from January through July of this year, our violent crime is actually down 34 percent and our property crime is down 5 percent. When you compare that to the county, Sheriff Sniff also did an update on their crime stats. Their violent crime is down 13 percent, but their property crime is up 6.4 percent. They measured unincorporated areas and then they measured the 17 contract cities in the county. We have a lot of work to do and nobody will argue that. When you talk to Chief Brown about crime statistics, he will tell you that the police department can’t take full responsibility for the drop in crime, nor can we take responsibility for an increase in crime. Right now we’re on a downtrend and we’re hoping not only to keep that going, but keep it going down.”

What do you think is involved in reducing crime?
“I believe that community involvement is a major factor in reducing crime. If you have an officer who is assigned to a specific area for a long period of time, he gets to know the people who live in his area. The bad guys; the good guys. People the officer can talk to when there is an issue,” said Brock. “Plus, he will hear things you don’t hear riding around in a cruiser. That’s invaluable when it comes to solving crimes. Our clearance rates for crimes are higher than a lot of other agencies in Riverside County and much of that is due to relationships we have with not only our community, but with other stakeholders, business owners and community organizations. Gaining community trust helps us solve crimes.”

How do you feel about cops patrolling a beat?
“I’m glad that you brought that up. I’m one of the last qualified bicycle patrol officers that Hemet has. When the economy went into recession and the department was forced to reduce employees, the bicycle patrol was one of the services we had to drop at that time,” said Brock. “That was necessary in order to put more officers in cars to make sure that the city was properly covered by law enforcement. Now, with the advent of Measure U, that’s one of the things you’ll see come back. The way that I envision it – and I’m not the decision maker in this – but I see the bicycle patrol as another instrument of law enforcement. Getting out there on bicycles, getting to meet and know people. I know it is being discussed and I think they will be back in the near future.”
From this reporter’s point of view, one of the best things Police Chief Dave Brown has done during his seven years as chief was to appoint a public information officer. Already there is better communication between the newspaper and the police department. We, in turn can bring that harmony to the citizens who expect both parties to do that. Just sayin’.

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