More than 1 million people live within the limits of San Diego, making it the second-largest city in California. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) protects the city’s population with 1,800 officers on active duty and is in the process of recruiting more qualified officials into the department.

For those interested in becoming a police officer in San Diego, there is a whole set of intensive requirements that need to be taken care of. The training period and the job itself is quite hard, therefore the candidates undergo extensive screening before they are made a part of the department. If you need information on how to become a police officer in San Diego, continue reading on.

About the San Diego Police Department

The San Diego PD is responsible for taking care of the law and order situation in the city. For effective performance of its duties, it divides the city into neighborhoods to ensure that all areas of the city are covered. The nine neighborhood boundaries are Central, Southern, Southeastern, Northern, Northeastern, Northwestern, Western, Eastern and Midcity.

The Department is divided into several units to cover all areas of potential criminal activity. These include divisions such as Investigations, School Patrol, Traffic Patrol, Child Abuse, Family Justice Center, Harbor Patrol, Robbery, Metro Arson Strike Team, Psychological Services, Sex Crimes, Special Response Team, Juvenile Services and many more.

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How Do You Become a Police Officer in San Diego

Police Officer Requirements in San Diego

Before you apply, you need to make sure you meet some of the basic requirements in place for police officers in San Diego.

General US Citizen or permanent resident who has applied for US citizenship
Minimum Age 20 years – on the day you take the Written Test; 21 at the time of Academy graduation. There is no maximum age limit
Education (See Section Below)
License A valid California Class C Driver’s License, required at the time of hiring
Typing Certificate A Certificate denoting the ability to type at the speed of 30 words per minute on a typewriter or computer keyboard. The certificate must be issued under the International Typing Contest Rules and should clearly mention the gross and net speeds, the number of errors involved, and the time duration of the test, which should be 5 minutes or longer.

In addition to these, you will also be required to clear a physical fitness exam, to prove that you are capable of performing this strenuous job. A background investigation might be conducted along with a polygraph exam to determine your suitability for the department. Psychological and medical evaluations will also be a part of the application procedure.

Education Requirements to Become a Police Officer in San Diego

To be eligible for this job, you will need to meet a certain education criteria. The following are the three options you would have in this regard:

  • Graduate from a high school located within the territory of the United States
  • Pass the California High School Proficiency Exam or the GED with the minimum scores set by the California Board established by the American Council on Education
  • Possess a two or four year degree from an accredited college or university

Training Requirements

For training, potential candidates would have to go to the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center, which is located on the Miramar College campus. All Police recruits must attend a 25-week long training session held at this academy. The program would involve understanding the academics of law enforcement. Modes of instruction would be classroom lectures that would involve developing an understanding of the state and federal laws, court cases and other common crime and legalities.

Physical Agility Test

Once applicants have completed this training program, they will be given the rank of Police Officer. They will be eligible for the San Diego Patrol Division, which would allow them to train further with an FTO, a Field Training Officer. This training would last an additional 12 weeks.

Police Officer Career and Salary Information

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Detectives had the following occupational outlook:

2016 Median Pay $61,600 per year
Typical Entry Level Education High School Diploma
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Required for certain positions
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 806,400
Job Outlook, 2014-2024 4%
Employment Change, 2014-24 33,100

The typical duties of a police officer and a detective include the following:

  • Enforce laws at all levels
  • Patrol designated areas
  • Respond to calls, emergency and nonemergency
  • Conduct traffic stops
  • Search for vehicle documents
  • Obtain warrants and make necessary arrests
  • Collect and secure evidence from crime scenes
  • Write detailed reports and fill out forms
  • Prepare cases and testify in court where need be
  • Observe and investigate the activities of potential suspects

The daily activities of a police officer would vary according to their occupational specialty. For instance, canine units would have a different work atmosphere, as compared to the Special Weapons and Tactics team. State level job duties would be different than federal or local levels.

A police officer’s job is demanding. The typical work schedule of a police officer is full-time, with extra payment for any extra time put in. Shift work is also a necessary component in the field.