LOS ANGELES – The United States' second largest police department is on the lookout for Filipinos to join their squad.
While the Los Angeles area is home to the largest Filipino American community, Filipinos make up about two percent of the 22,000 strong force.
“Our belief in community policing is to have a force that reflects the community and the Filipino community is a big community in the city of Los Angeles,” Los Angeles Police Department officer Jivlee Abalos said.
Officer Abalos has been with the LAPD for five years. He originally worked as technology consultant for IBM for 10 years, but decided to follow his sister's footsteps in law enforcement.
After patrolling the streets, he now handles recruitment and holds regular seminars with potential future police officers.
“I wasn’t happy with what I was doing but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled,” another applicant said. “So I decided to try this out.”
The minimum salary starts at about $49,000 for a high school graduate. But college diplomas or military experience can increase the starting salary.
Salaries will increase with promotions. Abalos said he has earned three promotions in his five years since joining.
With the high dangers of being an officer, the LAPD also offers benefits for officers and their families. They include health, pension, insurance, college tuition and paid vacation benefits which all begin on the first day of the academy.
Requirements include being at least 18-years old, having a high school diploma or equivalent, a clean criminal record, clean credit, and must be a US citizen or be applying for citizenship.
Potential recruits must undergo testing, questionnaires, and background checks before they’re accepted in the academy.
Candidates are also encouraged to be in good health.
While the LAPD emphasizes character and personality, they said the physical and tactical aspects can be acquired at the academy’s training programs.
The department offer applicants fitness camps to get them into better shape while they wait for entrance into the police academy.
The academy lasts about six months where training gets more intense and lifelike. Then it’s off to the field where some dangers and the stress levels can increase during emergency scenarios while continuing the classes.
“Everything is all encompassing because when it comes down to as police officers, you’re a human being,” Abalos said. “You have to be able to communicate with people and understand where they’re coming from so you can make the right decision to help."
Aside from metropolitan Los Angeles, the LAPD’s wide jurisdiction includes the airport, and smaller but heavily-Pinoy populated cities in the San Fernando Valley and South Bay.
Abalos hopes more Filipinos can not only join the force, which currently has 350 job openings, but to also gain promotions. The highest ranking Filipino is a lieutenant one.