San Francisco Police Department promotion plan
to speed career development
By Aldrich M. Tan
April 21, 2006
As more officers become eligible for retirement this year, the
San Francisco Police Department is developing a career plan that
enables younger police officers to become department leaders at
a faster rate.
Bruce Topp, Department of Human Resources representative, presented
a plan at the police commission meeting Wednesday evening to gradually
phase out the inspectors and assistant inspector positions so
that younger officers can quickly qualify for the sergeant examination.
"We have an ethical and moral obligation to facilitate career
development," Topp said.
The department will soon face serious staffing issues, Topp said.
At the end of the year, 500 staff members will be eligible for
retirement. All of the captains have had 25 or more years of experience.
The available workforce to replace retiring officers is slim,
Topp said. Between 1950 and 2000, the available workforce increased
by 120 percent. It will only increase by 36 percent between 2000
"This is a quiet crisis," Topp said. "It will
take a number of years to develop the leadership skills needed
for these roles in the current state."
In the current promotional program, appointments for sergeants
must come from inspector positions that, in turn, must come from
the assistant inspector positions. The new hiring strategy will
phase out both inspector and assistant inspector positions so
that police officers can quickly become eligible for the sergeant
The exams for sergeant, lieutenant and captain will be given
every three years to make the possibility of promotion more frequent.
There will be 551 positions available as current lead police officers
"Three promotions may result when one person retires,"
Sergeants will be assigned to the department's four bureaus:
airport, investigations, administration, and field operations.
Sergeants will also have the opportunity to transfer between bureaus
before their next promotion to lieutenant.
The police commission officials applauded Topp's presentation
and asked the human resources department to continue to find new
The Department of Human Resources will continue to aggressively
hire new recruitsand has hired a recruiting manager. It has also
received over 1,600 online applications.
Topp said the department is aiming for 3,000 applications since
it takes approximately 2,000 applications to hire 17 new officers.
"There is a lot of potential in the city and we need to
be proactive to make it happen," police commissioner David