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Draft Recommendation: Improve Hiring and Training Processes and Practices

Presentation to the Task Force

This revised draft recommendation was presented to the full Task Force on Monday, April 13, 2015.

Meeting Agenda and Details

Previous version of this draft recommendation.


The County of Sonoma's Workforce Diversity Report on law enforcement employees demonstrates that the current sworn law enforcement (patrol deputy) workforce does not reflect the communities they serve. The report indicated a significant underutilization of Latinos and women. For example, the percentage of Latinos in other law enforcement job classifications in the County is between 16.7% and 23.1%, but the Deputy Sheriff (patrol) has a Latino percentage of 9.5%. Latinos in the County are estimated at 30%, in some communities the percentage is higher. It is recommended that all levels of law enforcement staff should be more representative of the current demographics in Sonoma County.

The hiring and promotional process should also take into consideration, aside from general POST requirements, the candidates experience with community relations, community policing, and other aspects that would help identify best candidates for patrol (and other positions) that have demonstrated and continue to enhance their professional commitment to the community.

The President's Task Force on 21 st Century Policing, released in March 2015, provided specific details and guidance to local jurisdictions that align with many of the CALLE Task Force recommendations around hiring and training practices. Of special note is the recommendation that law enforcement agencies should strive to create a workforce that contains a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experiences, and cultural background to improve the understanding and effectiveness in dealing with all communities. The subcommittee agrees that a diverse workforce would contribute to an organizational cultural change in our local LEAs that would benefit the relationship with our community.

In regards to training of sworn law enforcement personnel, the personnel receive POST certified training through the academy and at intervals as recommended by POST. It important to note that all skills learned become perishable and, therefore, training should be a continuing process. The Federal Task Force specifically recommends the development of partnerships with training facilities to promote consistent standards for high quality training and establish training innovation hubs. Further recommendations of the Federal Task Force call for engaging community members in the training process.

Brief Overview of Process

The Community Policing subcommittee received reports and presentations from Human Resources and law enforcement agencies on their hiring and promotional process, the Workforce Diversity Report, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Plan (EEOP). The Workforce Diversity Report revealed that out of the four law enforcement/legal departments (District Attorney's Office, Probation, Public Defender's Office, and Sheriff's Office) in the County, the District Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's office are the two departments that hire Latinos at a lower rate than the other departments. This is another indicator based on local statistical data and fully supports the recommendations in this section.

While the subcommittee did not feel it had the expertise to evaluate the effectiveness of the current POST Diversity training requirements, we do believe that LEAs should be proactive in enhancing their training around cultural diversity and sensitivity; particularly in light of recent concerns and issues that have occurred in underserved communities with high minority populations, such as Southwest Santa Rosa.


It is imperative that law enforcement agencies hire from the communities served and that the workforce mirror the populations/demographics served. Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) should recruit, hire, train and promote in order to build the strongest commitment to community policing. Additionally, LEAs should increase efforts for bilingual and bicultural recruitments.

In order to establish a law enforcement work force that is culturally diverse and representative of the community in which they serve the Community Policing subcommittee:

A. Recommend SO hire an HR Consultant to focus on Latino outreach efforts to recruit an increased pool of candidates for the SO's Deputy Sheriff (patrol) recruitments and promotions

There needs to be an intentional plan to recruit a more diverse patrol workforce. The community expects a better representation. In support of this recommendation, please note that the Federal Task Force identified the need for local communities to diversify law enforcement departments to reflect the demographics of the community.

B. Recommend support for the County's EEOP with the goal of hiring more Latinos and women through the implementation of the objectives and goals. Specifically, support that:

  1. HR work collaboratively with the Sheriff's Office to develop a plan to increase the diversity and utilization of Latinos and any other ethnic/gender category as identified in the EEOP or in demographic reports, with a focus on the Deputy Sheriff class series.
  2. HR develop diversity awareness training specific for law enforcement division staff and require completion every two years where not already done.

There is a need for the law enforcement agencies to reflect the population served, therefore requiring an increase in the number of Latino and women patrol officers, including bilingual/bicultural skills. The US Department of Justice issued an EEOP dated March 7, 2012, which highlighted the underutilization of Latinos and women in sworn patrol positions, therefore supporting the recommendation that the Sheriff's Office increase the number of Latino and women officers in their patrol ranks. These recommendations are specific to recruitments of patrol deputies. The Corrections Division is mandated to keep levels of women correctional officers to meet the needs of their female inmate population.

C. Recommend the Sheriff's Office implement an "in-house" training and education program that will foster and encourage existing underrepresented population staff to apply for opportunities as Deputy Sheriff (patrol) positions.

Sheriff's Office has a high number of Latinos and women serving in different positions in their office, and even other County employees in typical legal/law enforcement backgrounds in Probation, District Attorney, and other legal environment offices. An internal program targeting Latinos and women could yield an interest among existing staff that could then increase the pool of candidates.

D. Recommend the Sheriff's Office take steps to develop a strong partnership with the SRJC Public Safety Training Center to increase hiring of officers from areas being served. In addition, recommend that the Sheriff's Office outreach to and encourage local youth to apply for and complete intensive basic academy, and supply information on financing through Career Technical Education (CTE) and other program funds.

The SRJC Public Safety Training Center is a valuable asset in the community and many local youth seek out the intensive basic academy with the hope to start a law enforcement career. It's beneficial for the SO and other LEAs to partner with the Center with the goal of hiring locally, or those from within the community. Similarly, SO and LEA can collaborate with the Center to encourage youth in the community to enter law enforcement careers and share funding information such as CTE, and other programs. Note: Costs are estimated at $3,000 for tuition, books, and fees associated with the academy.

E. Recommend that SO outreach to other law enforcement agencies with high percentage of diverse patrol officers to recruit deputies, and attend job fairs/conventions focusing on Latinos, women, and other diverse groups.

There are other agencies with a high number of diverse law enforcement members that SO and local LEAs can recruit from. These officers also have the same basic POST requirements and training, so would benefit the community to bring experienced officers that demonstrate excellence in community relations and community policing.

F. Recruit, hire, train and promote individuals with stronger backgrounds in community engagement and volunteering, and involve the community in these decision-making processes.

G. Recommend improvements to SO's hiring and promotional practices to allow for community input into the process, by including a variety of community partners in the rating, interviewing, and other steps, especially in promotional examinations.

Allowing the community to participate in the interview/hiring process would allow for transparency in the process and that the hiring and selection process and panel members be reflective of the community it serves. Some LEAs, such as Salt Lake City, UT, allow the public to be involved with and provide feedback to the Police Chief on promotional examinations. The Federal Task Force indicated that LEAs should evaluate officers on their efforts to engage the community and the partnerships they build, making it a part of the performance evaluation process, which in turn could be used for the promotional process.

H. Recommend that an HR Consultant work with SO and HR to investigate, review, and revise Sheriff's Office outreach and recruitment efforts including the background and final selection process to review for process improvements.

A thorough review of the SO outreach and recruitment efforts to include the background and final selection process will help to identify if there are any deficiencies or if processes need to be revised or streamlined; additionally, need to review if there are any steps in the process causing disparate disadvantage to any groups. This can be done through an experienced HR Consultant, police auditor, or other related firm approved through CAO and LEA. Additionally, the Federal Task Force has called for a Law Enforcement Diversity Initiative that could help local communities to learn best practices for recruitment, training and outreach to improve diversity.

I. Recommend the SO improve the process to outreach, recruit and hire lateral transfers at the sworn officer management and administrative level who may have successful experience in community relations, community policing, and collaboration with CBOs.

To help channel more community relations and a community policing atmosphere, it is important to hire management level staff that have had success in community relations; many times there may be administrative or sworn level management in other agencies that have successfully demonstrated this experience.

J. Recommend a review or audit (by a reputable police auditor or private firm) of the internal background process to determine pass rates of diverse groups to determine standards to passing and assess if the background process contributes to disparate impact in hiring, to include a recommendation on which type of background process would be within POST requirements and conducive to hiring a diverse patrol deputy workforce.

The background process may cause disparate impact in hiring of minorities and this may be causing candidates of diverse backgrounds to not be hired in the process. Nationally, the "Ban the Box" initiative has caused employers to review their internal processes to ensure that their background does not cause disparate impact to affected groups. Understandably, law enforcement candidates are excluded from this process due to criminal activity being a disqualifier in most cases. The current background process may still be an obstacle that may inadvertently keep many diverse candidates from being selected for sworn patrol deputy positions, so a thorough, independent review of the background process is necessary to ensure that the background is not causing disparate impact to certain groups.

K. Recommend SO work with an HR Consultant to develop specific interview questions that address the candidates' experience with community relations, community policing, and collaboration with CBOs and use them for entry and promotional recruitments.

Focusing interview questions on community relations/policing with behavioral type questions will help identify candidates that have experience working with diverse communities and how they impact the community at large.

L. Recommend that the SO work with County Human Resources to identify and develop training on unconscious bias and cultural intelligence for SO staff. As an additional consideration, recommend new hires go through this training. An example of training that can be POST approved and administered locally is:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Training, provided by Jaime Penaherrera which includes the training "Developing Culturally Intelligent Leaders for the 21st Century."

While law enforcement personnel may receive training through POST, these are perishable skills and consistent, high-quality training should be a continual process.

M. Recommend the development of supplemental questions for promotional exams that focus on the candidates' ability to relate and engage the community in a positive way, demonstrates their ability to use CBOs in problem solving, and give their responses considerable weight in the process.

Adding supplemental questions to promotional exams with emphasis and heavier weight on community relations/policing responses will help identify candidates that go above and beyond in troubleshooting and working with the community on issues.

N. Recommend developing a process to have members of the community give input into promotional panels. Determine what level would be conducive to have community input and participation and change the process to allow for this.

Allowing community members at different steps of the promotional/hiring level, either as raters or panel members will help with transparency and help with providing input from community.

O. Recommend that LEAs review their Field Training Officer (FTO) program to ensure appropriate training (such as the value of relationships with all communities, best community policing practices, etc.) to new hires, FTO trainer selection (with a focus on officers with experience with Community Policing practices, community engagement and relations, etc.), as well as modern evaluation standards for new officers that are based on Community Policing principles.

The importance of infusing Community Policing principles at all levels of law enforcement is especially important, with new hires or those new to our community. Selecting FTOs that demonstrate successful level of community policing practice is important in starting new hires in the right direction. The Federal Task Force has made a recommendation supporting the development and implementation of improved Field Training Officer programs to address changing police culture and procedural justice issues.

Timeline/implementation recommendation

Items should be addressed within 60 days of Board approval.

Performance indicator(s)

  • The number of Latinos will increase to meet or exceed the percentage of Latinos in other law enforcement job classifications and potentially meet the demographics of the communities it serves. The number hired will increase incrementally in an amount of at least, 5% each year, until the levels of Latino patrol officers meet or exceed the average of other law enforcement job classifications, which is approximately 19.5% overall. 
  • Implementation of changes to background process will yield the number of diverse candidates, without compromising the background requirements.
  • Enhanced training on cultural diversity and unconscious bias will provide for a law enforcement (patrol) workforce that is more understanding and knowledgeable on the communities they serve.

Additional considerations/alternatives explored

  • Enhance cultural diversity and responsiveness training beyond current POST requirements. Training should be developed with emphasis on local issues and multiculturalism. 

Contact Information

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sonoma County Administration Building
575 Administration Drive
Room 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403