National Police Week is this week from May 15-23 and the Burbank Police Department (BPD) is currently recruiting candidates to apply and join their team. As of May 1, 2023 the department has 148 of the 160 budgeted sworn police positions filled leaving them at 93% staffed.
Since the start of this year the BPD has hired three new people and nine officers the previous year. Since 2021 there has been a total of 27 hires in the department and 16 separations, leaving them in a deficit of officers. “One of the challenges that law enforcement is facing throughout the United States is retirements,” said Lieutenant Derek Green.
Between the new recruits and the retirements the BPD keeps finding itself in a catch up phase. “We still have the staff we need on the streets,” said Green. “We still have the patrol officers out there 24 hours a day.” In the next three to five years the BPD is expecting to lose 23% of their staff to retirements so their recruitment efforts are extremely important to growing and reaching the budgeted sworn police positions.
A few years ago the BPD secured grant funding through the City of Burbank to test recruits year round allowing for new testing cycles to take place every 28 days. Prior to this funding the BPD only held hiring a couple times a year because the cost of staging and initiating tests was too high. Now the BPD faces another big challenge which is getting the applicants.
The hiring process is broken down into eight steps. After the online application is turned in, recruits must pass the National Testing Network exam with a 70% or higher. The exam isn’t police specific but focuses more on basic reading and writing comprehension as well as some memorization. “A lot of our job is writing, so strong writers are going to excel in this profession,” said Green who emphasized how important it is to be articulate when writing police reports.
If someone passes the written exam then they are pushed through to the physical agility test (PAT) which needs to be completed in under two minutes. The test is done at the Burbank Police Department Firing Range and simulates an urban foot pursuit that an officer might face in the field. Both men and women must complete the same PAT and have two chances to complete it. While most people with a decent level of physical ability can complete the course, this is where many people fail the hiring process. The hardest challenge has been the wall at the beginning of the course. You can see a video of the PAT course here. After passing the PAT, candidates must then undergo an oral interview, an interview with the Chief and BPD Command staff, a background check, and finally a psychological and medical exam.
While fewer and fewer people are wanting to pursue law enforcement as a career, the BPD is working hard at making recruitment transparent and easily accessible. They recently launched a mobile-friendly website, www.joinBPD.org, that answers all your hiring questions. “If somebody messages us through our website, it goes directly to our staff here,” said Green. “We basically have focused on this concierge service concept where the minute somebody shows interest in our department, we’re literally calling them back, if not within an hour or two, it’s within minutes.”
BPD has also put together a 2023-2025 Sworn Recruitment Plan and one of their biggest priorities right now is to create more diversity throughout the the department. Currently there are 17 sworn female officers, making up 12% of the department. Burbank supports the 30×30 Initiative that pledges to increase participation of women in law enforcement to 30% by the year 2030.
As a hiring incentive, BPD is now offering lateral applicants a bonus of 120 hours of vacation as well as 120 hours of sick time beginning at the date of hire. Recruit applicants will receive a bonus of 80 hours of vacation and 80 hours of sick time upon academy graduation. Another incentive is that the city will pay for 75% of your college tuition while working for the BPD.
Once in the department there are many specialty assignments available to police officers to develop and advance their law enforcement career and promote to higher ranks. Some of those assignments include the Traffic Bureau, K-9 handler, S.W.A.T., Air Support, Detectives, Field Training Officers, Gang Enforcement, School Resource Officers, Mental Health Evaluation Team, Bike Patrol, and Community Resource Officers.
Non-sworn positions are also very important to the department and Burbank’s public safety career opportunities include Communications/911 Operators, Jailers, Forensic Specialists, Records Technicians, and more.
For more information on joining the BPD and the hiring process, visit their website here.