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San Francisco Sheriff's Office Joins U.S. Army Program To Recruit Former Soldiers Into Department

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) - The San Francisco Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Army signed a new agreement on Thursday to help soldiers finished with their military service start careers as part of civilian life. The partnership is one more way the sheriff's office is looking to improve recruitment as it remains understaffed across the department.

"In terms of recruiting and retention and hiring for our agency, just like everybody else, we're challenged with meeting our staffing needs," Sheriff Paul Miyamoto told KPIX 5 on Thursday.

"We share the same values, we share the same needs, the commitment to service and community is already there."

Miyamoto was joined by Army four-star Gen. Michael Garrett at a ceremony inside the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre to celebrate the sheriff's office joining the Army's Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) agreement. The program lets enlisted soldiers and ROTC cadets create a career pathway to professional life with companies across the country. Employers who sign up guarantee interviews to ROTC cadets after they complete their college degree and commission. Active Duty Officers become eligible once they finish their first term of service obligation.

"I always wanted to serve in the U.S. Army, even though I was in Mexico," said Ssg. Javier Gonzalez.  "Here I am 12 years from now, I've been traveling around the world pretty much, and I have many different opportunities."

Gonzalez said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks inspired him to serve in the military even though he was in another country and did not speak English. After a successful Army career, he is preparing for what could be next for him in civilian life. He said working for the sheriff's office is one possibility.

"All that will help you and the many the years you spend in the Army gives you the leadership, giving you the skills and the scope to think outside of the box," said Gonzalez.

The sheriff's office should have 1,200 employees but is down hundreds of staff members, including 153 deputies, according to Miyamoto. He says that hurts the agency's ability to staff positions needed across San Francisco including at the jails, in courtrooms, and other city departments.

"We have an opportunity here to leverage the talents that the people already possess, that they have already been trained to, and that they've already demonstrated while in the U.S. Army," he said.

Miyamoto acknowledges there is a negative perception around working in public safety, which all departments face in the Bay Area as they work to hire more qualified candidates. He hopes that meeting more deputies face to face will help improve their image, as some find new opportunities to work in the community while off duty.

"I think some of the challenges is just the perception of what the job entails," Miyamoto said. "We want to encourage people to join our agencies to be a part of the solution that we've already provided to the city in terms of keeping people safe."

That misunderstanding as the sheriff sees it is shared by some in the military. They believe a similar challenge gets in the way of more people serving in the armed forces.

"I think that there definitely is a lack of interest in law enforcement and military agencies," said Ssg. Ramandeep Kaur. "I don't think that it's because people aren't interested, I just think people are not educated enough on what the opportunities that the military and the law enforcement have to offer."

There are nearly 1,000 PaYS participants in the nation and about 100 members in California; these men and women work for employers that include Facebook, Wells Fargo, Tesla, the Sacramento Metro Fire District, and the LAPD, according to a news release.

"I think it's really important for people to learn who we are and what we're about," said Miyamoto.

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