H-SANTA MARIA

Dec 31, 2013 7:39 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

16 new officers to join SMPD in 2014

Sixteen new officers will be on the streets of Santa Maria by the end of 2014. Three of the new recruits who are going through training are women, but before they get a badge, all of the candidates have to be physically fit.

"It makes me feel like we are strong and that we are actually able to do what men are capable of, but it's also a little bit of a struggle at times," said SMPD officer recruit Monique Sandoval.

Sandoval was born and raised in Santa Maria and says she always wanted to be a police officer, but before she can protect the city she loves, she has to be fit.

"Physically I know it's really tough so I am just expecting the hardest and hoping to get through and never give up," said Sandoval.

The state requires all recruits to pass a physical test before they graduate from a police academy, whether they are male or female.

At Allan Hancock College's Police Academy, they have to complete a 1.5 mile run, 25 pushups, 35 sit-ups and one pull-up

"They are all treated the same. They have to pass the same tests both academically and physically," said SMPD Lt. Kim Graham.

Lt. Graham has been with the Santa Maria Police Department for 24 years and says this strenuous training prepares officers for the streets.

"If you hesitate, you do pushups. Get an answer wrong, you do pushups. It's just that stress. There's a purpose and it's not done without a purpose in mind," said Lt. Graham.

Recruit Sandoval says she's ready for the challenge.

"I know usually they say it's more for men or its tougher on women, but it just gives me more motivation to prove and really work hard and trying to be the best I can and do well for females looking to pursue something and probably don't have as much confidence," she said.

Recruits also have to pass a state physical test that includes climbing over a chain linked fence and a solid fence, a body drag, and an obstacle course.

Hancock's police academy is about four months long.

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