San Francisco hunts for service recruits 

With few public safety workers living in San Francisco and expected large numbers of retirees, a new proposal could start grooming San Francisco’s high school students to take these critical jobs.

As early as next year, high school students could have the option of taking training courses that could lead to jobs as local police officers, firefighters or nurses.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced legislation that would establish “public service academies.” The Police, Sheriff’s, Fire and Health departments would have to develop a plan — in collaboration with the director of work force development and the San Francisco Unified School District — to establish courses for high school students that would prepare them for jobs in the related public-sector fields. The SFUSD has similar programs in place preparing students for private-sector jobs.

“We need to partner and collaborate with The City in order to ensure that there are local jobs available for our students when they graduate,” Board of Education President Jane Kim said.

Mirkarimi specifically spoke about the Police Department’s low recruitment rate from residents of San Francisco, which he said is below 20 percent. He said hiring officers who live in The City could go a long way in meeting the goals of community policing.

“A minority of San Francisco firefighters and police officers live in San Francisco: 34 percent of firefighters and 25 percent of police officers,” the legislation says.

Said Mirkarimi: “It’s time that within the public sector that if we are serious about our work force objectives that we then we create the mechanisms that buttress our ability to hire people from San Francisco that hopefully will stay in San Francisco.”

The plan would have to be developed and submitted to the Board of Supervisors by June 30 with the goal of implementing it in time for the 2011-12 school year. The program must include paid internships, recruit participants from all neighborhoods and schools, be able to count toward graduation requirements and provide tuition assistance for post-secondary education or training that leads to a job. The proposal does stipulate that the programs are subject to the availability of funding.

The proposal seemingly comes at the right time for its supporters.

“There are 358 San Francisco police officers who are currently eligible to retire with maximum benefits and 661 officers who will be eligible within five years,” the legislation says. “There are 168 San Francisco firefighters who are currently eligible to retire with maximum benefits and 348 firefighters who will be eligible within five years.”

Fire Department Lt. Ken Smith said it didn’t seem “fair” to introduce legislation creating new programs until the budget problems facing all city departments are fixed. He attributed the amount of employees living outside San Francisco to The City’s cost of living.

San Francisco commuter force

Where The City’s police officers, firefighters and other city workers call home, by county:

San Francisco
Police officers: 571 (24.74%) 
Firefighters: 477 (33.88%) 
Other employees: 11,692 (46.03%)

Alameda
Police officers: 168 (7.28%) 
Firefighters: 119 (8.45%) 
Other employees: 3,023 (11.90%)

Contra Costa
Police officers: 404 (17.50%) 
Firefighters: 128 (9.09%) 
Other employees: 2,574 (10.13%)

Marin
Police officers: 170 (7.37%) 
Firefighters: 126 (8.95%) 
Other employees: 572 (2.25%)

Napa
Police officers: 14 (0.61%) 
Firefighters: 13 (0.92%) 
Other employees: 81 (0.32%)

San Mateo
Police officers: 687 (29.77%) 
Firefighters: 223 (15.84%) 
Other employees: 5,486 (21.60%)

Santa Clara
Police officers: 38 (1.65%)
Firefighters: 16 (1.14%)
Other employees: 271 (1.07%)

Santa Cruz
Police officers: 3 (0.13%) 
Firefighters: 9 (0.64%)
Other employees: 9 (0.04%)

Solano
Police officers: 91 (3.94%)
Firefighters: 48 (3.41%)
Other employees: 941 (3.70%)

Sonoma
Police officers: 129 (5.59%) 
Firefighters: 149 (10.58%)
Other employees: 232 (0.91%)

Other** 
Police officers: 33 (1.43%)
Firefighters: 100 (7.10%) 
Other employees: 518 (2.04%)

Total
Police officers: 2,308
Firefighters: 1,408
Other employees: 25,399

* Does not include police, fire, sheriff’s employees
** Residence outside of the Bay Area

Source: Department of Human Resources

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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