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The City of Santa Cruz is now recruiting for Police Officer Lateral and academy graduate candidates. Come join a department that has received national and international acclaim for our innovative strategies. We believe in fostering an environment of strong critical thinking and problem solving skill. Each and every officer in our department embodies a commitment to change and improving the quality of life in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Police Department serves a community of over 59,000 citizens. During the summer months, the population may swell to over 90,000. There are 94 sworn officers assigned to such areas as patrol, traffic, parks, community services, downtown, investigation, and undercover task force assignments.

Salary: Academy Graduate $5,665 - $8,369 monthly
Lateral $5,948 - $8,369 monthly

See hiring bonus info at bottom of page.

Recruitment #15-002 - Applications accepted continuously for the academy graduate or lateral level.
To apply submit application materials to the City of Santa Cruz Human Resources Division, 809 Center St., Room 6, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060:

      1.  City print application form completed in full (online process not available for this recruitment). Form can be filled out online and then printed.

      2.  Original (not a copy), current (issued within 30 days prior to the date of application), official, certified, true and attested ten year DMV driving record printout (see Driver's License Requirement section)

      3.  Photocopy of the POST certificate or POST academy completion certificate (see Required POST Certification section)

      4.  City of Santa Cruz Personal History Statement.  Follow the instructions which have been customized for our agency. The form must be the most currently available POST form, printed out single-sided, and handwritten in blue or black ink.

      5.  Copies of transcripts or certificate/s of your educational degrees must be attached as verification in order to qualify for Educational Bonus.


  • Applications will be screened based on the minimum qualifications for the job. (For Lateral or Academy Graduate candidates, there is no written examination or physical agility testing.)
  • All candidates who pass the screening process and who have turned in all required application materials will be referred directly to the Police Department. Candidates who pass the review of their PHS will continue on to an oral panel. Candidates who pass the oral panel will go on to the polygraph step. Selected top candidates will continue on to full background investigation. Successful finalists proceed to an oral interview with the department's executive team. If a candidate receives a conditional offer, they must still pass a psychological exam and the pre-employment medical exam.

For more information about the position, contact the Police Department recruiting section at (831) 420-5801. To schedule a ride-along with an officer or tour the Police Department, go to the Police Department webpage. For application questions, email the Human Resources Division or call 831-420-5040.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS (Knowledge, skills and abilities)
• High school graduation or tested equivalent.
• At least 21 years old at time of appointment to police officer.
• Must be a U.S. citizen or have applied for U.S. citizenship before application for police officer.

Physical Condition
• Physical health, strength, and agility necessary to meet the physical demands of police work, as determined by a medical exam (based on current California POST Commission guidelines).
• Corrected vision of 20/20 in both eyes together. Uncorrected vision of 20/80 for both eyes, for those who wear glasses or hard contact lenses. There is no uncorrected vision standard for individuals who successfully wear soft contact lenses. Current POST vision guidelines must be met, including those for color, binocular, and peripheral vision.
• Willingness to work rotating shifts including nights and weekends.
• Psychological suitability for police work (determined by a psychological exam as required by the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission).
• Ability to pass a comprehensive background investigation which includes a polygraph examination, credit history, driving record, criminal activity, military and employment records, and character references (in accordance with the minimum standards for employment issued by the California POST Commission).

• Bilingual and/or bicultural Spanish speaking

A photocopy of the applicable POST certificate must be attached to your application. Applications received in the Human Resources Division without a copy of the applicable POST certificate may be rejected. (A Waiver of Attendance of a POST-certified Regular Basic Course will not be accepted in lieu of the basic law enforcement certificate.)

ACADEMY GRADUATE: Requires possession of a current academy completion certificate awarded by the California Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST). If you are currently enrolled in an academy, you may apply at this level if:

  • You submit a letter from your academy verifying that you have attended the academy for at least 30 days and are in good standing.

LATERAL: Requires possession of a current POST basic law enforcement certificate issued by the state of California.

Applicants must be able to obtain by time of hire and continue to maintain a valid California driver’s license and a safe driving record. Applicants with more than two moving violations or responsibility for more than two vehicle accidents in the past three years will be disqualified. A DUI conviction within four years or any two convictions of DUI of alcohol and/or drugs shall be disqualifying.

All applicants, including regular and temporary City employees, must attach to their application an original, recent (issued within 30 days prior to application date) ten year driving record printout issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Driving record printouts issued by other agencies will not be accepted. The printout can be obtained at the Department of Motor Vehicles, at a cost of $5.00. For more information call (800) 777-0133. An original, current DMV driving record printout must be attached to the employment application. For more information see the City of Santa Cruz Driving Record Printouts webpage.

An intensive background investigation will be conducted on each final candidate in accordance with the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission Peace Officer Background Investigations Guidelines. Candidates will also be required to successfully pass a polygraph test administered by a licensed polygrapher, a psychological exam given by a City-selected psychologist and a medical exam by a City physician (to include a stress test EKG and general physical examination). The results of the psychological exam are valid for one year. Suitability for employment will also be based on the following POST job dimensions: problem-solving ability, learning ability, observation skills, willingness to confront problems, interest in people, interpersonal sensitivity, desire for self-improvement, dependability, integrity, credibility as a witness in a court of law, communication skills, judgment under pressure and physical ability.

Note: For the purposes of this policy, an adult is defined as someone 18 years of age or older.

A. The following types of illegal drug use or possession will be considered automatic disqualifiers in the pre-employment selection process for sworn police personnel, with no exceptions.

1. Any adult use or possession of a drug classified as a hallucinogenic within seven (7) years prior to application for employment.

2. Any adult use or possession of marijuana within one (1) year prior to application for employment.

3. Any other illegal adult use or possession of a drug not mentioned above (including cocaine) within three (3) years prior to application for employment.

4. Any illegal adult use or possession of a drug while employed in the capacity of a police officer, licensed security officer, military police, or as a student enrolled in college accredited courses of/or related to the criminal justice field.

5. Any adult manufacture or cultivation of a drug.

6. Failure to divulge to the Police Department during the background investigation any information about personal illegal use or possession of drugs.

B. The disqualification of a police officer candidate for the following types of illegal drug use or possession will be considered in relationship to the overall background of that individual:

1. Any illegal juvenile use or possession of a drug.

2. Any illegal adult use or possession of a drug that does not meet the criteria of the automatic disqualifiers specified above; e.g., marijuana use longer than one (1) year ago or cocaine use longer than three (3) years ago.

C. All information obtained during a background investigation is confidential and will not be released to candidates or others.

APPOINTMENT: Any candidate selected by the appointing department must pass a pre-employment medical exam administered by a City-selected physician before hire. Prior to starting work, all newly hired employees will be fingerprinted to check conviction history. A conviction history will not necessarily disqualify an applicant from appointment; however, failure to disclose conviction history will result in refusal of employment or termination. Candidates must present documentation verifying authorization to work in the United States and take a loyalty oath as required by the State of California at the time of hire. Appointments to regular positions are subject to a one-year probationary period, which is considered a part of the selection process. Probationary employees may be terminated without recourse during this period.

SCHEDULE: All police patrol personnel currently work a 10-hour/4-day a week schedule.

SALARY POLICY: This classification has an eight-step salary range. Appointment is normally made at the first step of the range. Employees are advanced to the next step upon successful completion of six months of service and are eligible for merit increases each year thereafter, until the top step of the salary range is reached.

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT: Newly hired Police Officers are required to sign an employment contract which provides that if the employee resigns from the Santa Cruz Police Department within 36 months of his/her date of hire, and accepts a sworn position with another law enforcement agency within 120 days of his/her resignation, the employee will reimburse the City for the estimated direct costs related to post-academy training provided by the City (a schedule of reimbursement is available upon request).


RETIREMENT: All regular employees become members of PERS. Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) 2.7% @ 57 plan (3 year average); this retirement formula will apply only to regular employees who have an original hire date after 1/1/2013. Prior PERS membership may affect retirement formula. Employees contribute 20.25% of their salary to PERS on a pre-tax basis through FY13.  Employees may withdraw their PERS contribution with interest upon termination of employment or leave it on deposit. No social security is withheld.
INSURANCE: Employees and their dependents are eligible for medical, dental, drug and eye care programs. Employees also receive long-term disability and $50,000 basic life insurance. Additional low cost group life insurance is also available.
VACATION: Full-time employees are eligible for 80 hours of vacation per year up to 5 years of service; 120 hours from 6 to 10 years of service; and 120 hours of vacation plus 8 hours for each year of service after 10 years to a maximum of 160 hours.
HOLIDAYS: One hundred and four hours per year.
SICK LEAVE: Ninety-six hours per year. The City has a sick leave incentive program.
PRE-TAX DEDUCTIONS: The Medical Reimbursement Account allows employees to make pre-tax deductions for allowable medical expenses not covered by the medical plan. The Dependent Care Assistance Program allows employees to make pre-tax deductions for childcare.
OTHER BENEFITS INCLUDE: Access to credit union, tuition reimbursement for job-related courses, discounted bus passes for travel to and from work, direct payroll deposit, and deferred compensation plan. Uniforms are provided to officers and maintained by the City.


HIRING BONUS:  New Lateral Police Officer will receive $20,000 - 1/3 upon successful completion of the Field Training Officer (FTO) program, 1/3 upon successful completion of probation, and 1/3 on the second anniversary of the hiring date (one year after the completion of probation). For the purposes of this hiring incentive, new Lateral Police Officers are defined as Police Officers currently employed by a California law enforcement agency who have successfully completed a probationary periiod of at least twelve (12) months.

New Academy Graduate Police Officers will receive $10,000 - 1/3 upon successful completion of the Field Training Officer (FTO) program, 1/3 upon successful completion of probation, and 1/3 on the second anniversary of the hiring date (one year after the completion of probation).

EDUCATIONAL BONUS:  New Police Officers who have a two-year college degree (AA or AS) will receive a $2,500 education bonus, distributed in the 1/3 payments described above.

New Police Officers who have a four-year college degree (BA or BS) will receive a $5,000 education bonus and distributed in the 1/3 payments described above. If they also have an AA or AS, they will receive only the higher incentive.

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ EMPLOYEE REFERRAL BONUS:  City employees who refer a candidate for Police Officer will receive a recruitment bonus of $5,000 - 1/4 upon successful hiring of candidate, and 3/4 upon sucessful completion of probation. Multiple employees may be named by a single candidate; bonus will be evenly divided. Employee/s name/s must be listed on the candidate's application prior to submission.

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EDUCATIONAL REIMBURSEMENT: Police Officer candidates are eligible to be reimbursed up to $500 per fiscal year for tuition and books upon successful completion of City approved college or university courses or other courses directly related to the candidate's job duties, with prior approval of the Chief of Police.

EDUCATION INCENTIVE: Police Officers are eligible for the following education incentive compensation: AA/AS degree or Intermediate POST Certificate - 2.5% differential of base pay per month, or BA/BS degree or Advanced POST Certificate - 5% differential of base pay per month.

BILINGUAL PAY: For bilingual speaking skills, Police Officers are eligible for 5% differential of base pay per month, upon the recommendation of the Chief of Police and the approval of the Director of Human Resources.

The information included in this announcement is subject to change
and does not constitute an expressed or implied contract.

Last updated: 6/30/2014 3:29:07 PM