HomeCommunity NewsIncontro Says There are Many Factors to Police Shortage

Incontro Says There are Many Factors to Police Shortage

San Marino Police Chief John Incontro said that there are many reasons the San Marino Police Department is currently short staffed. Following up on a subject discussed in last week’s Tribune, Incontro said that management style, higher pay in larger departments and lower crime activity on the job within the city are among the reasons many officers leave.

Incontro shared that San Marino has had a high success rate of new hires staying on with SMPD after their necessary amount of training. In his time with the force, two have left before or right after the training probationary period.

Incontro said he has seen some patterns in exit interviews of prior officers during his time with the department. The reasons are varied and include desire of officers to join a larger department with more opportunity for specialized assignments, different kinds of work, opportunity to promote faster, higher pay and higher long-term retirement benefits.

“Sometimes it’s monetary, sometimes it’s personality driven, sometimes it’s type of work driven,” said Incontro.

Incontro also noted that since he joined SMPD as chief in 2014, he has made some policy adjustments to investigations that some officers came to disagree with. With 35 years of experience within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), he started to register complaints and changed how complaint investigations and use of force investigations were handled. He “tightened them up” in how they were outlined and he said some felt he was “a little strict” in how he was managing.

“Things were going well but just in my eyes, I wanted to do things a little different,” said Incontro. “Plus with my experience from LAPD and going through a consent decree, I saw things in a slightly different way than some of the other people.”

A consent decree is an agreement between involved parties submitted in writing to a court, according to the LAPD website. Upon judge approval, it becomes legally binding. A consent decree within law enforcement serves as an oversight by the Department of Justice to promote police integrity within a department and prevent conduct that deprives individuals of their rights, privileges or immunities under the United States Constitution. The LAPD was under a consent decree from 2001 to 2013.

“The officers we have are professional, they do their job,” said Incontro. “And as it is, if we have two complaints a year, that’s a lot. Or if we have four uses of force, that’s a lot. I just have a different style and some people aren’t used to that.”

SMPD hires recruits in four different ways. First, one can be hired as a recruit officer who has not yet been sworn in as an officer. The SMPD pays the recruit a salary to attend a police academy which lasts approximately six months. The cost of the training depends on what academy that’s currently available. The SMPD utilizes the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Academy, Rio Hondo College Police Academy and the Golden West College Police Academy.

“Sometimes what we’ll do is we hire someone a few weeks before the academy and we do that to get them started on the academics and ensure they are at a physical readiness for the academy,” said Incontro. “It’s a way to ensure that our investment is going to succeed.”

Another option is hiring recruits who have put themselves through academy or are currently attending one on their own sponsorship. In this way, the recruit can go directly into a training program with the SMPD. Upon graduation from the academy, recruits go through a field training program which lasts 20 to 22 weeks.

A third route is lateral hires, hiring those who are already sworn officers. They’ve completed the academy and the training probationary period. They also have a post basic certificate.

“If we were able to get more laterals, that’s great,” said Incontro. “It’s a very quick turnaround to have a full time officer on his own who needs little or no supervision.”

The final option is hiring officers who have been out of police work for two to three years. They are required to go through a refresher training program called Police Officer Standard Training (POST) for three weeks, according to Incontro.

Depending on how much training is required of the recruit, the cost can range from $500 to several thousand dollars, according to Incontro. For a raw recruit requiring full training which includes academy cost, salary, testing, time of on-duty officers to monitor exams, interviews, background investigation and other requirements over an approximately two year time period, the cost is “easily a few hundred thousand dollars or more,” according to Incontro.

“It can be expensive and that’s why we want to make sure that when we finally do offer a job to someone, we have a good feeling they’re going to make it through rather than not,” said Incontro.

The SMPD is currently working with the Chinese Club of San Marino to identify potential candidates within the community. Incontro noted a need for those who speak Mandarin and other languages, which can be a valuable asset in a diverse community. The department currently has three officers who grew up in San Marino.

“We really do want to ensure that the police department reflects the community that we’re serving,” said Incontro.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]