Breaking News
More () »

Stockton police getting creative to fill void of officers

Stockton police is down 121 officers in its department as higher pay elsewhere attracts officers to move

STOCKTON, Calif. — From the Taco Festival in Modesto to the Grilled Cheese Festival in Sacramento to even recruiting as far away as Lexington, Kentucky, the Stockton Police Department is going wherever it can to recruit much needed officers.

"The goal is to reach those candidates that are qualified but a diverse group of candidates that reflect the department and the city of Stockton," said Stockton police recruiter, Lt. Anabel Morris.

Morris has been with the department for 22 years and has been recruiting since 2012.

The department is at 364 officers but they have a goal of 485 officers. It is Morris's job, along with more than three dozen other recruiters, to convince those interested to join Stockton Police Department.

However, with departments across the country facing intense public scrutiny in recent years, it's become a difficult sell to get someone to wear a badge.

"We need to make sure we get out in the community and kind of not only reach the young people, the children in junior high and high school, but kind of educate them in regards to the opportunities that are available in law enforcement," said Morris.

The competition to recruit officers from other departments is fierce.

In fact, some law enforcement departments from the Bay Area have used billboard space around Stockton to recruit officers in the Port City to their departments.

Much of what it takes to get recruits to stay in Stockton comes down to money.

Starting pay for a Stockton police officer is over $79,786.08. In Tracy, that wage is over $91,348.92 and in the city of Pleasanton, just a short distance away, it's over $104,561.60.

"We've had the Texas Department of Public Safety, every quarter, come to Stockton to recruit," said Patrick High, Stockton Police Officers Association President.

High has 16 years on the force. He says Stockton has become a training ground for other departments looking for seasoned officers, and that more effort is needed to keep officers here.

"We're not in a day and age where we can go from a contract and just wait for the next one to go around because it's such a competitive marketplace. We've got to keep up with the market with other places and look at incentivizing people to stay at this agency," said High.

The Stockton Police Department has implemented what they call "organizational wellness" as a way to retain officers and show they care.

"We have an app on our phone as well to ensure that they can reach out at any time. They can reach out to any of the members which we now have two full-time officers on staff as well as a chaplain," said Morris.


California’s snow survey impresses as cold spring storm bring more snowfall

Before You Leave, Check This Out