Police Departments Police Test Study Guide

San Diego Police Department | Your Complete Guide to SDPD

Jan 26th, 2021
san diego police department

Who are SDPD?

San Diego police department (SDPD) was formed on 16 May 1889 and is now the 8th largest police departments in the United States.  

As stated on the SDPD website, their mission statement is clear: “to maintain public safety by providing the highest quality police services to all of our communities”.

The department operates on the core values such as:

  • Integrity
  • Partnership
  • Diversity
  • Compassion
  • Employee enrichment
  • Innovation
  • Justice

San Diego police department offers a number of services and support programs for the local community. Among them include:

  • Family justice center – a public safety initiative launched to assist victims of domestic violence.
  • Crime-free multi-housing – this program brings property managers and law enforcement together to tackle gangs, drugs, and unruly behavior out of apartments and other properties.  
  • YANA checks – a “You Are Not Alone” check, allowing officers to stop by and check on the elderly who live alone. Some elderly residents may not have family or friends to check up on them and therefore they may become susceptible to crime, loneliness, or both.
  • Take Me Home program – in program in which a registered person with a disability or cognitive impairment can be assisted by law enforcement.

SDPD sets a community oriented policy; developing stronger citizen-law enforcement relationships to  help both sides of the equation tackle crime in the local community.

Statistics Behind SDPD

As of 2020, San Diego police department has 1,731 police officers601 unsworn personnel, and 840 volunteers – making SDPD the 8th largest law enforcement agency in the United States.

  • Motto of SDPD: “America’s Finest”
  • On March 2, 2018, David Nisleit was appointed to the 35th Chief of Police of SDPD.
  • San Diego police department is currently headquartered at 1401 Broadway.
  • San Diego police department has an annual budget of $566 million. SDPD serves and protects over 1.4 million (2019 est.) resident and 36 million visitors who visit the city on an annual basis. SDPD covers an area of 373 square miles.

In terms of the structure of SDPD, it currently has:

  • 9 divisions (Central, Northern, Northeastern, Northwestern, Southern, Southeastern, Eastern, Western, Mid-City)
  • 10 police stations
  • 1 correction center
  • 43 units

Since SDPD was established, 32 officers have died in the line of duty.

As of 2020, the average police detective salary in San Diego is $71,052, but the salary range typically falls between $57,407 and $85,922.

Learn more about San Diego police department by visiting their official website.

Brief History of SDPD

Beginning in 1850, law enforcement in San Diego was under control from the City Marshal – the first of which was Agoston Haraszthy. At that time, there wasn’t much interest in law enforcement positions and so the City Marshal system disbanded.

However, the City Marshal was to be restored again in 1889. A new charter was developed and the police department was given some degree of organizational structure. At the time, most officers were white except for one Hispanic Sergeant.

The department moved at various points in its history. Today, the department can be found at 1401 Broadway, whereas from 1939-1986, the SDPD was based at Harbor Drive. The previous headquarters can still be visited today as it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the Second World War, many officers were drafted to the war effort; as many as one-third of the department.

It was not until 1973 that San Diego police department hired its first female uniformed officer.

San Diego police department was also rocked by the 1984 San Ysidro massacre at a McDonald’s outlet. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in US history – where 41-year old James Huberty shot and killed 21 people and injured 19 others.

How to Join SDPD

As part of the San Diego police department exam, candidates must go through the following stages:

  • Police written test
  • Physical abilities test
  • Background investigation
  • Polygraph examination
  • Oral board exam
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Medical evaluation

The first step is to take the written test, administered by San Diego’s Personnel Department. Test dates can be reserved by visiting the Personnel Department’s Open Job Opportunities online portal and filling out the online application for the post. If you fail the written test, you can re-test after 30 days (if a re-take is possible at that time).  But the written exam is just the first part of the test. The SDPD written test examines your knowledge of grammar/spelling, math, written communication, map reading, and reading comprehension.

The fitness test involves running a 475-yard obstacle course that simulates a police chase. Candidates are expected to complete the course in as fast a time as they can. It involves dodging low hanging objects, running through a series of pylons, and dragging a simulated victim. Furthermore, candidates are provided a 3-pound vest to wear during the obstacle course. Candidates can contact SDPD to arrange a practice test, which is typically available to do each week (except if the weather is bad).

You May Also Like


Join the 89,561 Candidates

We helped pass the police exam!

Our course is tailored for the needs and demands of the 2024 police exam;
the complete online test preparation product tailored for police officer, sheriff deputy, correctional officer, and state trooper applicants.

Choose Your State

Select Your Agency

Choose Your State

Select Your Agency

96% exam success rate with our program

96% exam success rate with our program.

100% moneyback guarantee.

Fail your exam? We offer a 100% moneyback guarantee.