Need a job?
If you can jump a fence (or two) and push a car 20 feet by yourself, and youre not averse to risk, several police agencies across Broward County are hiring.
Hollywood, with 33 vacancies, is going all out to attract applicants.
The city has put up a billboard off Interstate 95 near Oakwood Plaza featuring an enlarged photo of a police badge and a short message in big letters: Serve with Honor, JOIN THE FORCE.
We are all competing for the same pool of applicants, Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez said. We need to get the message out there.
While Hollywood has the most job openings many officers left after the city slashed pay and benefits in 2010 and 11 agencies across Broward are hiring new recruits. Some are adding positions as the economy improves.
Fort Lauderdale, one of the largest agencies in the county, has 16 openings. The Broward Sheriffs Office in the past year has hired more than 70 deputies, many of whom came from Hollywood.
We are seeing more jobs opening up, said Linda Wood, dean of Broward Colleges Institute for Public Safety, which runs Browards police academy.
Many of the men and women looking to serve and protect say they are encouraged.
I just want to get hired, said Christian Nickerson, who was taking the swim and agility tests Thursday at the academy.
New recruits have to go through grueling tests just to apply for a job, including pushing a car, running an obstacle course, and a trigger-pull exam to test hand strength. Once they apply, there is another series of tests and qualifications that vary by agency, including a psychological exam and a polygraph test. If they are hired and not yet certified, they have to go through the police academy, which at Broward college costs about $3,600 and includes 770 hours of training often at the departments expense.
Joseph Tigeleiro, 22, was among those training last week.
When he heard Go! Tigeleiro took off running, easily clearing the six-foot wall in front of him. He kept a steady pace, climbing up the ladder and down a ramp, then over a gate and up a chain-link fence. He made it in one minute and 26 seconds, under the two-minute time limit.
Tigeleiro, who lives in West Palm Beach, is certified and was taking the agility test, which expires after six months. He said he has applied to Sunrise, Lauderhill and Broward Sheriffs Office.
Location is very important, said Tigeleiro, saying that was his main focus when he chose which agencies to apply for.
For Chris Rodriguez, 24, a departments financial stability, pay and benefits weigh heavily on his decision.
I am looking for a place that has a good retirement plan, he said. Hes applied to BSO and Miami Beach.
He said word trickles down to the new recruits about where and where not to apply.
Everyone talks, he said. He said he had heard that Hollywood had a mass exodus.
You have to consider those things when you are applying, he said.
In Hollywoods case, its been a rough few years as the city dealt with budget deficits. Pay for police officers was slashed 12.5 percent and benefits were cut. The starting salary, at $42,000, was the lowest in Broward. Morale suffered, and the relationship between the police union and the city soured. Lawsuits were filed, and union negotiations stalled.