The San Diego Police Department, which has faced a bitter recruitment and retention crisis in recent years, is continuing to make progress in its effort to hire more police officers.

The next police academy, which starts July 21, will include 52 new hires. That’s the largest academy in the last 15 years. A couple of years back, one academy had just 18 entrants.

The department has undertaken a major recruitment and retention drive over the last couple of years. The recruitment team at the SDPD has even gone out of state to recruit new police officers, in addition to increasing advertising and making other changes to the recruitment process.

Last year, the department cut its written test in half in an effort to attract more people. The department also started running tests more often and running one test a month in the evening, both new tactics.

The changes have paid off. Last year, 2,809 people completed the written test, up from 1,668 in 2006.

“We’ve moved in a positive direction,” said Capt. Bob Kanaski, who heads up the department’s recruiting efforts. “I think we’ve got the ball rolling into developing the applicant pool so that we can pick the best recruits for the department.”

WILL CARLESS

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