How to Become a Police Officer in San Diego

San Diego is the second largest city in California and is one of the fastest growing cities in the US.1 Currently, there are approximately 1,800 officers on active duty in the city and the department is actively recruiting qualified police candidates.

Anyone looking into becoming a police officer in San Diego can expect quite a few strict requirements and an intensive training period. However, the job also comes with a lot of benefits such as good pay and benefits. The process of becoming a San Diego cop is outlined in detail below.

San Diego Police Officer Requirements

san-diego-policeAnyone aspiring to become a San Diego police officer must meet a few basic requirements as well as complete a number of tests. Candidates for an entry-level position for the SDPD must be a US citizen and at least 20 years old the day they complete the SD police academy training. Additionally, all applicants must hold a high school diploma or a GED, and carry a valid California class C driver’s license. Unique to San Diego, all future police officers in the city must also hold a Typing Certificate, which indicates that officers have the ability to type at a speed of at least 30 words per minute.

Examinations Required for San Diego Police Recruits

In addition to the basic requirements listed above, San Diego police candidates must take and pass a variety of written, psychological and physical tests. Additionally, candidates must submit to a full medical evaluation and an extensive background check followed by a polygraph examination. Once all tests have been completed, candidates must attend an Appointing Authority Interview, which evaluates a candidate’s qualifications, communication skills, and many other job-related factors that are used to judge a person’s potential ability to work within the San Diego Police Department.

Any applicant with a history of felony charges, drug use, multiple traffic violations and/or even bad financial credit may be ineligible for service with the San Diego Police Force. Each case will be judged on an individual basis.

For more information, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our homepage and once you are ready to apply for a position, application information can be found at the San Diego PD careers page.

San Diego’s current Chief of Police is William M. Lansdowne and has served more than ten years in the position. An Oakland native, Mr. Lansdowne graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from San Jose State University in 1973. He also studied at the FBI National Academy

San Diego Police Department Information

The San Diego PD serves the entire metro city, which has a population of over 1 million people. Daily police service is divided up by neighborhood boundaries, which have been assigned nine division names: Central, Northern, Northeastern, Northwestern, Southern, Southeastern, Eastern, Western and Mid City.

The San Diego Police Department is divided into various units including Air Support, Armory/SWAT, Auto Theft, Background Investigation, Canine Unit, Child Abuse, Cold Case Homicide, Communications, Crime Analysis, Criminal Intelligence, Crisis Intervention, Data Systems, Domestic Violence Unit, Elder and Dependent Abuse, Equal Employment Opportunities, Family Justice Center, Field Training Officer, Financial Crimes, Forensic Science, Gangs, Harbor Patrol, Homicide, Internal Affairs, Juvenile Services, Laboratory, Legal Advisors, Metro Arson Strike Team, Media Relations, Mounted Enforcement Unit, Narcotics, Neighborhood Policing, Permits and Licensing, Personnel, Psychological Services, Records, Recruitment, Robbery, School Task Force, Sex Crimes, Special Response Team, Traffic and Vice Operations.

San Diego Police Training Academy

The San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center is located on the Miramar College campus. Police recruits attend a 25-week college level training program (Academy) where they study the academics of law enforcement through classroom lectures, laws, court cases and articles dealing with various aspects of common crimes and legalities.

Once recruits complete the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center, they will be appointed the rank of Police Officer I upon graduation. Afterwards, candidates will be eligible for the SD Patrol Division where they train further with an assigned Field Training Officer (FTO) during a 12-week Field Training Program.

For more information on the San Diego Police Academy process, contact the San Diego Training Center at Miramar College.

San Diego Police Salary and Jobs Outlook

The San Diego Police Department is revamping its training policies in order to be more attractive to new recruits. Law enforcement pay varies greatly depending on education and experience. Most officers begin to see pay increases as early as the first year of service, along with many opportunities for promotion. Once settled into the job, the average annual pay for a San Diego patrol officer is $74,120.2

Currently, the city is actively recruiting new police officers to work in San Diego law enforcement. For more information on upcoming recruitment dates, contact the SDPD Recruitment Unit.

More Information on the San Diego Police Department

San Diego is a vibrant town with many diverse communities. The San Diego PD has many programs that aim at bringing the police service and the community close together. They are especially focused on crime prevention programs and activities for San Diego youth. For the younger crowd, Safety Sam often gives safety lessons about bicycle safety, pedestrian safety, seat belts, 911 and stranger danger to elementary schools. Another active youth program is the KIDZWATCH Academy, which is a program for 5-to-11-year-olds that teaches the importance of community involvement and volunteering. Police officers, firefighters, and park rangers teach a few classes during the eight-week program.

For adults interested in the world of local law enforcement, residents may enter the San Diego Police Department Cadet Program, an entry-level, voluntary position for young people between the ages of 16–21. Once “cadets” attend a six-session academy, they may be able to go on ride-alongs, assist with security and traffic control, work undercover, etc.

Contact Information

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandiegopolicedepartment?fref=ts&rf=112177955460553
Twitter: @SanDiegoPD

SDPD Headquarters
1401 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 531-2000

Additional Resources

1. US Census Bureau, San Diego, California: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/sandiegocitycalifornia,ca/PST045217
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41740.htm
3. San Diego Police Department: https://www.sandiego.gov/police/