A San Diego Police Department patch on an officer’s uniform. Courtesy SDPD

The San Diego Police Department’s police academies recorded a 17% increase in diversity over 2020, the department announced Sunday.

Each of the three academy classes in 2021 had 68% of recruits being people of color, and were the most diverse in SDPD history, according to Ashley Bailey of the SDPD.

“Our recruiting team has taken great strides in finding the best candidates that represent our diverse city and encouraging them to join SDPD,” Police Chief David Nisleit said. “Their innovative ideas, like our Women’s Hiring Expo and pre-academy CAMP, make it easier than ever for potential recruits to get to know the department and complete the hiring process as seamlessly as possible. These efforts make a big difference in our department and for our communities.”

Mayor Todd Gloria called the announcement “very welcomed news,” adding that “the steady growth we’ve witnessed over the last few years within the force, coupled with targeted efforts that ensure our recruiting is diverse, is reflective of our desire and commitment to better connect with those we serve.”

Over the past several years, the SDPD has aimed to have 50 recruits per academy and nearly hits that goal each time. Currently, there are 90 recruits going through the academy, with another 90 in field training, Bailey said.

Council member Montgomery Steppe said it is a priority to have members of the police department be reflective of the communities they serve.

“I welcome hard conversations around diversity, inclusion, and equity,” Steppe said. “I’m happy to see new recruitment efforts resulting in our most diverse academies yet.”

In 2019, the SDPD launched a recruitment and retention campaign to attract candidates, and particularly individuals with diverse backgrounds, Bailey said.

Efforts included targeted local and national advertising, attending career fairs and community events, and working with candidates prior to exams and academies to ensure their success.

Other efforts included:

  • Recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Women’s Hiring Expo in August, attended by more than 75 participants, seven of whom are in the latest academy
  • 30×30 Pledge to improve the representation of women in law enforcement. The initiative’s goal is to reach 30% of women in police recruit classes by 2030. Of the most recent academy, 28% are women

Those interested in learning more about joining the SDPD were urged to visit joinsdpdnow.com.

City News Service contributed to this article.

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