Nearly a hundred women showed up this weekend at Palm Desert High School in an effort to show the Riverside County Sheriff's Department they have what it takes to join the law enforcement agency, which is undergoing a "massive" hiring effort.
"We'll be hiring well over 500 deputy positions alone, not counting the civilian and correctional deputy, over the next probably five or six years," Sheriff Stan Sniff tells Patch.
"We're in a massive hiring effort, it started last summer," Sniff said. "We came out of basically a hiring freeze in Riverside County, and the board authorized me to begin building up staffing, for not only patrol operations, but also for the jail system that's going to undergo tremendous expansion here in Riverside County."
To begin filling the void in staffing, the agency hosted its latest “Women’s Fitness Challenge” for females 18 and over interested in a career as a deputy sheriff or correctional deputy.
A total of 87 women headed out to the school's football field at 7 a.m. on Saturday, where they were asked to demonstrate their physical agility skills, and were greeted by the sheriff himself to explain the hiring process.
The event allowed women— some who had already expressed interest in the department by taking the written test, and others who were completely new to the hiring process— take the sheriff's physical assessment test.
Included in the trials were:
- 27 sit-ups, to be completed within one minute
- 22 push-ups, to be completed within one minute
- 1.5 mile run, to be completed within 14 minutes
After completing the assessment, women were invited to check out a series of booths set up at the high school and meet currently employed sheriff's officials, to learn about the wide variety of positions available within the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
Diversity Important to Sheriff
Sniff told Patch that it's important to him when hiring, that the department reflect the diversity of the communities it represents.
"The sheriff's department currently in Riverside County pretty much sets the gold standard on having women, not just at entry level positions, but throughout the organization," he said.
Sniff said women have made the department much more professional, just as they have law enforcement as a whole over the last 35-40 years.
"[Women] have a tendency to be much stronger in skills sets on communication," Sniff explained. "You still have to have the ability to use force, but everything in between is very, very critical for modern policing today."
Sniff said there are "great examples" in the department of how crucial women can be, such as his Undersheriff, Colleen Walker.
"Many agencies have women at the lower levels of the organization, but the Riverside County Sheriff's Department has women at all different ranks," Sniff said.
A Tough Job to Get
Sheriff Stan Sniff told Patch that of those who attempt to get hired by the agency, roughly one percent will actually make it through the entire process.
That means that of the 87 women who went to the Palm Desert event, odds are that maybe one of them will make it to the sworn deputy status— a process which takes about a year, when the hiring and training processes are all said and done.
At Saturday's trial, less than half passed the physical assessment, according to Sheriff's Corporal Angel Ramos.
Of the 38 who passed, 21 had previously passed the written exams and were given background packets, according to Ramos, who said the remaining 17 were scheduled for the written exam.
According to sheriff's Lt. Sheryl Evans, more than 200 people came out to the last hiring event the agency hosted in Nov. 2012. Of those, only three remain in the hiring process to become sworn deputies.
Next 'Fitness Challenge' in Temecula
The next hiring event will be held sometime in the Fall, according to Lt. Evans. That one will be held in the Temecula area, but an exact date has yet to be set.
Just as in the Palm Desert event, there are roughly 50 or 60 different specialities applicants can learn about within the department, including sworn and non-sworn positions.
However, you don't have to attend one of the hiring events if you're interested in getting into the sheriff's department, Evans added.
She recommended those interested check out the department's hiring page, at JoinRSD.org.