Visalia PD ... No Problems Filling Vacancies

January 12, 2009 7:12:47 PM PST
While unemployment climbs, and some businesses struggle to stay open, the tough economy is having a positive effect in one industry. Some law enforcement agencies in the South Valley are finding it easier to fill open jobs.Police officers here in Visalia say at one time the department had up to 15 vacancies, which is a lot for an agency their size. Now, they're expected to be at full staff for the first time in years.

Visalia Police say more officers could be out patrolling the streets this year, thanks to a fully staffed department. Sgt. Steven Phillips says he gets a call nearly every day from someone interested in becoming a police officer.

Sgt. Steven Phillips said, "Interestingly enough I spoke to someone the other day who's 33 years old wanted to go through the academy and was looking for a change in employment and also sometimes they look for the stability of a job with the city."

Phillips says high unemployment rates are making the department's job pool larger. The Visalia Police Department is expected to fill its remaining two open positions within a couple months, meaning the agency will be at full staff ... 142 sworn officers ... for the first time in years.

"It's always good the idea is to put the officers on the street and if you have open vacancies that's money you have positions for but you don't have any of the officers there to fill those positions so we are up to full staffing it is great," said Phillips.

The Hanford Police Department is also seeing more job applicants, and current officers say Hanford's salaries are more competitive with bigger cities like Los Angeles. But lt. George Hernandez says the department is still trying to cut costs during today's economic downturn.

Lt. George Hernandez said, "There is one position that we were granted in January that we probably will not be filling that will be placed on hold until the economy gets better."

Not every department can afford to fill all their vacancies. Tulare County Sheriff's officials say while they have 25 positions open they're not actively recruiting to fill those jobs because of the uncertainty of the state budget.

Porterville Police say they've also been filling more vacancies this year than years past. Tulare Police say the economy hasn't really changed its job pool.

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