The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has altered the candidate recruitment process due to COVID-19, but the number of people interested in joining the force has increased since the pandemic began.
Jordan Richards, a CHP recruiter, said prior to the pandemic, physical testing and written exams for the CHP were done in one day, with more than 100 applicants.
During the pandemic, the physical testing portion is conducted in groups of no more than 15 people at a time and is held outdoors.
“We do the push-ups on a mat that each applicant has to clean after they’re done with it and the sit-ups the same way, highly sanitized mats," Richards said.
Entering the CHP Academy is a competitive and rigorous process. Only 1% of applicants secure a job, according to recruiters.
However, the statistic doesn't phase candidate Giancarlo Antonelli, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of family members in law enforcement.
“Hearing their stories and how much they love their jobs is what invigorated me to get out here and try out," Antonelli said.
In addition, the CHP is seeing higher retirement rates this year than in years past.
Typically, about 300 officers retire each year, but Richards says that amount could be tripled, with upwards of 900 to 1,000 officers stepping down.
“There’s a lot of those officers that are in the retiring age bracket, so a lot of officers are in that 50 to 60 years of age and they’ve done their 20 or 30 years and they’re looking to retire," Richards said.
Richards says it is unlikely those who secure a position within the CHP will work locally in San Luis Obispo, Templeton, or Santa Maria locations as the highly desired Central Coast area is where many senior status and transfer officers end up.
Los Angeles offices hire about 50% of CHP cadets, 25% will work in the Oakland area, and the remaining 25% will work in other locations across the the state, according to Richards.
Richards adds that they have seen a diverse group of candidates this year, but they are hoping to see more female candidates apply.
Candidates interested in joining the CHP Academy must have either a GED or a high school diploma, be a United States citizen, be 20 to 35 years of age, and have no felony convictions.
Applications can be submitted through CHPcareers.com