Southern California Police Department Seeks Recruits at WOU

John Deer and Ed Villarreal

Representatives from the El Segundo Police Department in Southern California visited campus this week in their first out-of-state recruiting trip. They have high hopes for the outcome after taking with Western Oregon University students, many of whom are in the criminal justice program.

“We’ve had a great experience,” said Sergeant Ed Villarreal. “We’re meeting a lot of students who I think would be a great fit for our police department, whether they are criminal justice majors or not. I didn’t know I wanted to be a police officer when I went to (college), and it’s been a great career for myself.”

So far, students have been inquisitive about the pay and benefits an officer might earn. Sgt. Villarreal said the starting salary in at ESPD is $75,000 to $95,000. Officers also start a pension account, which pays out in retirement. “These kids are 22-23, so I know they’re not thinking of that, but it adds up really quick,” he said.

On Thursday and Friday, WOU students will take a written test for consideration with ESPD. Those who do well might end up flying to SoCal for oral boards and physical agility tests.

El Segundo Police Department
Members of the El Segundo Police Department talk to a recruit at the WOU Criminal Justice Career Fair.

Sgt. Villarreal offered this advice about the top three traits his department values in a job candidate.

  1. Communication skills: “Put the phone away and talk to people. Take speech classes, they help. Take classes in English because they’re going to be doing a lot of reports.”
  2. Sense of compassion: “You never know what kind of call you’re going to go on. You could be going out to a domestic violence call where kids are affected by it. That’s where your compassion hat has to come on.”
  3. Good character: “Have integrity. Be a good moral person. Always be professional. Be good workers. Be good people in the community. Make good decisions. These are all things we are looking for.”