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Law Enforcement Careers in California

The Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol oversees the California Highway Patrol (CHP), one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States.

The Assistant Field Commissioner oversees the Office of Air Operations, the Protective Services Division, and the State Security Division, as well as 8 geographical divisions in California:

  • Border Division
  • Central Division
  • Coastal Division
  • Golden Gate Division
  • Inland Division
  • Northern Division
  • Southern Division
  • Valley Division

Law enforcement jobs in California are available through the California Highway Patrol, country sheriff’s departments and municipal police forces in hundreds of cities and townships. Those interested in police training in California are encouraged to satisfy candidate requirements before contacting the law enforcement agency of their choosing.

Jobs with the California Highway Patrol

The California Highway Patrol (CHP), which includes more than 12,000 employees  (7,500 of whom are sworn Police Officers) and more than 100 offices, serves as the state police (The CHP merged with the California State Police in 1995) and the law enforcement agency that patrols California highways.

 

In addition, the CHP provides protection to California state buildings and facilities, and serves as bodyguards for state officials. The CHP works alongside other municipal law enforcement agencies and provides assistance in all aspects of their law enforcement, including investigations and patrol.

All candidates interested in State Trooper jobs in California must meet minimum requirements before they can begin State Trooper training in California. All applicants must be between the ages of 20 and 35. They must have adequate vision; they must be a U.S. citizen; they must be in good health and free of any physical, mental, or emotional conditions that would prevent them from doing their job as a CHP officer; they must have a high school diploma or GED; and they must have no felony convictions.

Individuals interested in State Trooper jobs in California should know that the CHP considers a degree (associate’s or higher) from an accredited college or university to be highly desirable.

Jobs with Municipal Police Departments in California

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Police Department includes 10,023 officers and 2,879 civilian staff members, thereby making it the third largest local enforcement agency in the United States (following the New York City Police Department and the Chicago Police Department). Los Angeles Police Officers patrol an area of 498 square miles and serve nearly 3.89 million residents.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is split into the following offices:

  • Office of the Executive Director
    • Advocates Unit
    • Community Policing Liaison
    • Personnel Services Unit
    • Discrimination Unit
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Commission Investigation Division
  • Office of Community Policing

All candidates for Police Officer training in Los Angeles must be at least 21 years of age before they can begin Police Officer Training in Los Angeles through the police academy. Further, all applicants for Police Officer Jobs in Los Angeles must have a high school diploma or GED; and they must be a citizen of the United States.

All LAPD Officers begin their careers in patrol and may transfer to specialized divisions after a few years in the field. There are over 250 specialized jobs in the LAPD, including the SWAT Team, horseback officers, helicopter pilots, K-9 Officers, and bike officers, just to name a few.

San Diego

The San Diego Police Department is divided into 19 service areas and serves 122 neighborhoods. There are about 2,800 positions, with about 1,800 of those being Patrol positions and about 338 being centralized investigations positions. The San Diego Police Department includes 9 Divisions:

  • Western
  • Southern
  • Southeastern
  • Northwestern
  • Northern
  • Northeastern
  • Mid City
  • Eastern
  • Central

Specialized Units within the San Diego Police Department include: Air Support Unit; SWAT; Auto Theft Unit; Background Investigations; Canine Unit; Child Abuse; Cold Case Homicide Unit; and Criminal Intelligence, just to name a few.

All candidates for Police Officers Jobs in San Diego must pass a written test, physical abilities test, polygraph examination, background investigation, appointing authority interview, psychological evaluation, and medical evaluation.

San Jose

The San Jose Police Department has over 980 Police Officers who patrol about 178 square miles. San Jose Police Officers work  in the Department’s 50-plus specialized units and assignments, including: a canine unit, a bomb squad, an assaults unit, airport police, a crime scene unit, a metro unit, and a mounted unit, just to name a few.

The San Jose Police Department is divided into the following offices:

  • Office of the Chief of Police
    • Specialized Investigations Unit
  • Bureau of Administration
  • Bureau of Field Operations
    • Patrol Division
  • Bureau of Investigations
  • Bureau of Technical Services

The San Jose Police Department has a selection process for all candidates who are interested in Police Officer Jobs in San Jose that lasts from 6 to 8 months. Before candidates can qualify for Police Officer Training in San Jose they must pass the California P.O.S.T. Entry-Level Law Enforcement Test Batter and pass the Department’s physical agility test.

The background phase of the hiring process includes a polygraph exam, a psychological oral interview, and a psychological written test.

San Francisco

The San Francisco Police Department is divided into three departments:

  • Office Of Chief of Staff
  • Office of Operations
    • Patrol Division
      • Metro Division
      • Golden Gate Division
    • Airport
    • Investigations
    • Homeland Security
    • Office of Administration

The San Francisco Police Department also has a number of District Stations throughout the city:

  • Tenderloin
  • Taraval
  • Southern
  • Richmond
  • Park
  • Northern
  • Mission
  • Ingleside
  • Central
  • Bayview

The Specialized Units of the San Francisco Police Department include: Homeland Security Unit; SWAT Team; Bomb Squad; HSU & Marine Unit; Hostage Negotiation Team; and a Canine Unit, just to name a few.

Individuals who want to qualify to take the examination for Police Officer training in San Francisco must be at least 20 years old; must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien; and must have no felony convictions. Candidates for Police Officer Jobs in San Francisco must hold a two-year/four-year degree from an accredited college or university and must successfully complete the background investigation process.

Jobs with County Sheriff’s Departments in California

The largest counties of California include:

Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is the largest sheriff’s department in the world. Individuals interested in Deputy Sheriff Jobs in Los Angeles County should know that it is divided into 11 divisions, with each division being headed by a Division Chief. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department also has three patrol divisions, a Custody Operations Division, a Correctional Services Division, a Court Services Division, a Leadership and Training Division, an Office of Homeland Security, a Detective Division, and an Administrative Services Division.

San Diego County

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department consists of 4,000 employees, including Sworn Officers and support staff. The sworn officers of the Department patrol an area of nearly 4,200 square miles. The Divisions of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department include:

  • Court Services
  • Detention Facility Services
  • Human Resource Services
  • Law Enforcement Services
  • Management Services
  • Office of the Sheriff

Individuals interested in Deputy Sheriff Jobs and Deputy Sheriff Training in San Diego County may apply through the Department’s Human Resources Services Division.

Orange County

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department includes the following Division within its Operations Services Bureau:

  • Uniform Patrol Division
  • Criminal Investigations Division
  • Special Operations Division

Deputy Sheriff Jobs in Orange County also include specialized units, such as the SWAT Team, the Emergency Response Team, the Hostage Negotiation Team, the Bureau of Investigation, and the Hazardous Device Team.

Riverside County

The Riverside Sheriff’s Department is the second largest sheriff’s office in California, as the Deputy Sheriff Jobs in Riverside County serve more than 7,200 square miles and 17 cities. The Riverside Sheriff’s Department also manages five correctional facilities and provides court services.

Sheriff Stations in Riverside County include:

  • Cabazon
  • Colorado River
  • Hemet
  • Jurupa Valley
  • Lake Elsinore
  • Moreno Valley
  • Palm Desert
  • Perris
  • Southwest
  • Thermal

San Bernardino County

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Deputy Sheriff Jobs in San Bernardino County provide law enforcement services to the unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County, as well as 14 cities, all of which include nearly 1.1 million residents. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department also operates a county jail and Deputy Sheriff Jobs in San Bernardino County provide marshal services to the superior courts.

California Law Enforcement Salaries

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported the following median California law enforcement salaries in 2010:

  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: $92,390
  • Supervisors of Police and Detectives: $128,130
  • Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: $79,030

Detectives and Criminal Investigators Salaries in California

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bakersfield-Delano CA
280
74820
Chico CA
30
73680
Modesto CA
80
Estimate Not Released
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division
610
100280
Salinas CA
60
100040
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA
590
90330
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division
720
94020
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta CA
60
86150
Santa Rosa-Petaluma CA
70
92200
Stockton CA
70
85650
Vallejo-Fairfield CA
50
82590
Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area
70
68990

Police Officer and Sheriff Salary in California

In California, salaries among police officers and sheriffs vary between cities. For example, the Los Angeles Police Department follows this pay structure for its police officers:

Police Officer I and II – Schedule A

Step 1
Step 2
Step 4
$47982
$49924
$54747

Police Officer II – Schedule 2

Step 1
Step 2
Step 4
Not Available
$64832
$72224

At the level of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a deputy sheriff trainee earns between $56,429 and $70,105. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree have a starting salary of $62,904.

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers Salaries in California

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bakersfield-Delano CA
920
66820
Chico CA
Estimate Not Released
66080
El Centro CA
290
64960
Fresno CA
2020
72610
Hanford-Corcoran CA
160
61390
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division
22280
85620
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA
26830
85820
Madera-Chowchilla CA
160
67780
Merced CA
440
69150
Modesto CA
780
69070
Napa CA
Estimate Not Released
66950
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division
3600
88260
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA
6220
75240
Salinas CA
700
74560
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA
Estimate Not Released
79390
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA
5090
96030
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles CA
590
73980
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division
4550
86820
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta CA
Estimate Not Released
78440
Santa Cruz-Watsonville CA
340
84960
Santa Rosa-Petaluma CA
Estimate Not Released
83870

State Trooper Salary in California

The state trooper salary in California starts between $51,288 and $64,332 for cadets. After cadet training is complete, they advance to become officers/troopers and are paid a base salary of $67,764 with 5% increases yearly until they reach the top rate of $84,036. However, they also receive the following incentives:

  • Physical performance pay: $65 per month, $130 per month after 5 years of service
  • Canine handlers: $156 per month
  • Pre and post shift work: 3.5% of base pay
  • Bilingual pay: $100 per month

Police Supervisors and Detectives Salaries in California

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Bakersfield-Delano CA
70
99090
El Centro CA
40
111450
Fresno CA
100
Estimate Not Released
Merced CA
30
103420
Modesto CA
30
107460
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division
230
137900
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura CA
70
128380
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA
330
114470
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville CA
300
109010
Salinas CA
60
99820
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA
420
134460
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City CA Metropolitan Division
190
130370
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA
150
138630
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division
230
135870
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta CA
40
126660
Santa Rosa-Petaluma CA
30
119980
Vallejo-Fairfield CA
60
Estimate Not Released
Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area
50
100020
North Coast Region of California nonmetropolitan area
40
99180
Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area
80
82420

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