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San Diego mayor, police chief announce expo to recruit more women into police force

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit speaks at a press conference about an upcoming hiring expo.
San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit speaks at a press conference about an upcoming hiring expo aimed at helping the department recruit more women into the force.
(Brittany Cruz-Fejeran/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Women currently make up less than 17 percent of the Police Department but half of San Diego’s population

City of San Diego leaders on Monday, Aug. 2, announced efforts aimed at recruiting more women to the police department, which, despite recently sending some of its most diverse classes to the police academy, still lags in hiring women.

At San Diego Police Plaza, Police Chief David Nisleit announced that a hiring expo designed to recruit more women to work for the San Diego Police Department will be held Aug. 21 from 8 a.m. to noon.

The department’s two most recent police academy classes were the most diverse in its history, with people of color representing two-thirds of the recruits. The department still struggles to bring women and Asian Americans to the academy.

Women make up less than 17 percent of San Diego’s police force but half of the city’s overall population. That’s better than the national average of 13 percent, but the department hopes to increase the number of women to better match the city’s population, Nisleit said.

Assistant Chief Sandra Albrektsen will talk with prospective recruits at the expo, joined by women from the department’s K9 and SWAT units who will perform a demonstration. Police recruiters will lead an academy-style workout for attendees and women detectives will host a Q&A to close the event.

The department is hoping to send 50 qualified female recruits to the academy this year, said Sharon Yoon, a homicide detective who spoke at the press conference.

Yoon, a veteran of nearly nine years at the department, said she has been able to climb the ranks while balancing a home life with three kids. Other women in the department have done the same, she said.

“I’m currently a mother to three children, and my youngest child is only (a year old). And I know (there are) other women in our department who were in similar situations as me. They play the role of being a mother as well as being a police officer or sergeant or detective, and they’re still able to have very successful careers,” Yoon said.

Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe pledged to work with the chief and his efforts to make the department more diverse. Both agree more work needs to be done.

“We must take and continue to take long hard looks at those barriers and obstacles that make it hard to recruit, retain and promote women in law enforcement,” Montgomery Steppe said.

Montgomery Steppe pointed to a San Diego pay equity study from earlier this year that found women employed by the city earn 17 percent less than men and people of color earn 20 percent less than their White counterparts.

That study also found that women and people of color are filtered out early on in the police department’s hiring process.

Nisleit said the department has made changes to correct the issue, like allowing recruits with a bachelor’s degree to skip the written test. The 165-page report had cited problems with the written exams or physical tests applicants must complete.

The chief also wants to provide more opportunities for women to climb the ranks in the department, where the positions are better paid. He’s hoping a new childcare center at Police Plaza, slated to open later this year, will encourage women to do so.

“Our male counterparts seem to take more overtime and then generally will rise through the ranks. … We know that women, especially once they start giving birth and having children, don’t want to go up the ranks.”

The center will offer child care at a reduced rate from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the week.

The department is asking women 18 and older interested in a career in law enforcement to attend the expo later this month. Those interested in participating can email sdpdrecruiting@pd.sandiego.gov for more information.


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