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San Francisco needs hundreds of cops. Why is it hunting for recruits in Texas?

Members of the San Francisco Police Department’s 280th recruitment class stand at attention in the San Francisco Police Academy. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

The San Francisco Police Department is visiting four Texas university campuses through September as part of new recruiting efforts to find candidates outside of California.

For the first time, police officer candidates will be tested outside of California, with a written test, a physical ability test and an oral interview.

A department spokesperson said the trips are meant to lower barriers to entry into the police department, speeding up the hiring process.

The department is due to carry out one-day testing at the following Texas colleges starting Wednesday:

  • Texas Southern University in Houston; 
  • Sam Houston State University in Huntsville; 
  • Prairie View A&M University; and
  • Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. 

Usually, recruiters visit state campuses five to 10 times a year, giving presentations and talks about the department and its hiring processes to interested students. 

A police spokesperson said that the estimated number of applicants this year is 2,104, nearly a 20% increase from 1,756 last year. 

Exact conversion rates from visiting out-of-state college campuses to hiring San Francisco police officers were not provided by the department.

San Francisco police recruits look on during a news conference at the San Francisco Police Academy on May 15, 2018. | Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The recruitment push comes as SFPD faces staffing issues, leading the department to pay out millions in overtime annually. 

Between 2017 and 2022, the San Francisco Police Department spent $88.9 million more on its employees—despite its staff working fewer hours, according to employee pay data from the City Controller’s Office. The police department has attributed the reduced hours worked to a staff shortage. 

Tech titans have also called for more cops, with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff urging the city to hire more police officers during the Dreamforce 2023 conference. Benioff has threatened to take the conference out of San Francisco if the city doesn’t address its homelessness and drug crises.

In March, crypto tech boss Chris Larsen spent $600,000 on a televised ad campaign to attract more recruits. The police department was not involved in the campaign.

George Kelly can be reached at

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