Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, Aug. 5 @ 4:44 p.m. / Community, Local Government
CCPD Introduces Its New Cadets — Connor Sperling and Kaylee Cristia — to Crescent City Councilors
Crescent City Police Department’s newest recruits met the City Council for the first time Monday.
Connor Sperling and Kaylee Cristia are the first two new-hires to take advantage of the city’s sponsorship program through the Peace Officer Standards and Training academy at College of the Redwoods, CCPD Chief Richard Griffin told Councilors.
Both have experience working in law enforcement and corrections, though they don’t yet have that POST Basic certification yet, Griffin said.
“Kaylee was working at Pelican Bay,” he told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Friday. “Connor’s a local who used to work at the Sheriff’s Office and then at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office also.”
Cristia, 21, came to Del Norte County from the Bakersfield area. She worked as a certified medical assistant in a doctor’s office after graduating high school and went into correctional nursing at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, Calif.
Cristia told Councilors she and her partner decided to move to Crescent City because its small town atmosphere and the forest appealed to them.
“Becoming a law enforcement officer seemed like an unattainable dream for me, but with the sponsorship program it was an opportunity I could not let go,” she said in a written statement. “I wanted to become a police officer to make changes in people’s lives and in the community we live in, bringing safety and security to our community and unity and trust within people.”
Sperling told Councilors that the academy is “going great so far.”
“I’m taking in a lot of new information,” he said. “I’m just excited to take in as much as I can to be able to take what I learn here and apply it to the streets of Crescent City.”
Thirteen people applied for CCPD’s cadet sponsorship program, trying for one of three vacancies within the department, Griffin said. Three were selected, but one was let go due to not being able to meet the department’s standards, he said.
The Crescent City Council approved CCPD’s sponsorship program in February when Griffin pointed out that there were two vacant positions within the department, including one paid for through Measure S tax dollars. A third position, also paid for through Measure S, was expected to open in July, according to Griffin.
Under the program, the city pays the fees and tuitions associated with the POST Academy — about $4,383 for the 23-week program — along with food and housing costs — roughly $5,310 — if the officer is staying on campus and eating in the cafeteria.
A new recruit would also receive an hourly wage of $18.02 plus benefits about two months before attending the academy and during the academy.
To be considered for the program, a recruit must sign an agreement with the city promising to pay back the cost of attending the academy, not including their wages and benefits. If they work with CCPD for five years, no repayment is required, according to City Attorney Martha Rice.
An officer generally gains the base knowledge needed to progress in their career after working for about five years, according to Griffin.
Griffin said he hopes the sponsorship program will be a long-term tool CCPD can use as positions become open, especially if they’re not able to hire someone who’s more advanced in his or her career.
“The hope is to get them through the academy and we have a longevity of 10 to 15 years,” he told the Outpost. “That way it’s building on the experience. We have several officers here that still have a long time left. My challenge is to keep them here.”
City Councilors in February also approved $10,000 hiring bonuses to recruit more seasoned police officers to Crescent City. Councilors also added a $3,000 relocation assistance incentive.
CCPD has picked up one lateral recruit so far, Wade Owen, Griffin said, but there hasn’t been as much interest in that program.