Berkeley Police Avoids Layoffs, Looks to Hire

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While many other law enforcement agencies around the Bay Area are eliminating positions due to financial hardships, Berkeley Police Department has been flooded with applications for its three vacant positions.

Though the department is eliminating three positions, reducing the force from 185 to 182 by attrition, it is also filling three other positions opened up by retirements and resignations and has received a record 1,065 applicants for the open positions, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

"We've got many men and women who both have experience and no experience with law enforcement agencies who want to apply ... because they are faced with losing their jobs in other neighboring cities," Kusmiss said.

She said the city is fortunate not to be experiencing layoffs like many other Bay Area law enforcement agencies.

The Oakland Police Department plans to eliminate 80 officer positions and San Carlos plans to transfer its force of 32 officers over to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

UCPD has also eliminated positions over the years through attrition in order to overcome budget cuts and still function properly.

"We have lost positions through the past few years where we've had to accommodate the budgetary cuts," said UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya. "Recently we have seen a significantly high demand for UCPD jobs because there are so few agencies that are hiring."

The San Jose Police Department will be forced to eliminate a large number of positions after a city budget adopted by the San Jose City Council in June included the elimination of 162 sworn officer positions. Ultimately, 92 unfilled positions will be eliminated because there have been significantly more retirements than expected since June, said Michelle McGurk, spokesperson for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

About 80 San Jose police officers have received notices of potential layoffs so far, but no officers have been officially laid off, according to Sgt. Ronnie Lopez, a spokesperson for the San Jose Police Department.

Though the Albany Police Department is looking to fill one open position, it will not be hiring like Berkeley's department because it wants to save money, said Charles Adams, Albany's finance director.

"We are stable, and we're not in the position to recruit anyone but we're not laying anyone off either," he said.

With other agencies cutting back and not hiring, Berkeley's Director of Human Resources David Hodgkins said Berkeley's department has become more attractive, especially because people from all over the country can apply online.

But Berkeley's police department is more selective than others and is one of the few departments to require a two-year college education, Hodgkins added. At one point, the department required officers to have a bachelor's degree.

"The community has always wanted the police department to reflect the community served," he said. "The community wants their officers to be educated, articulate and thoughtful."


Contact Caroline Cook at [email protected]

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