In an effort to promote the Riverside County Sheriff Department’s upcoming Women's Fitness Challenge, members of the media got a glimpse Tuesday at what is involved in training to become a deputy.
Reporters were taken inside the main academy building at the Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center to experience some critical training scenarios. Sprawled across property that was formerly part of March Air Force Base in Riverside, it is where recruits spend several months before earning a badge.
Tuesday’s media tour involved driving a simulator in a high-speed vehicle pursuit, and deciding whether to use lethal force—an air-filled Glock handgun—on suspects seen on a large screen in instances such as a school shooting and a hostage situation.
Representatives of various bureaus within the sheriff’s department were on hand to take questions, many of whom will also be on hand at Saturday’s recruitment event.
K-9 Deputy Kari Cranfill of the Lake Elsinore station brought her partner, Tessa, a Belgian Malinois to provide insight about canine training and capabilities.
Lt. Cheryl Evans, who oversees the sheriff’s personnel bureau, said visits like Tuesday’s were important so the media may in turn share with the public “part of what the recruits go through for training.”
Evans said 110 women have already registered for the Women’s Fitness Challenge, which begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Chaparral High School in Temecula. Onsite registration will offered at 7 a.m. the day of the event.
The fitness challenge is a way for prospective female deputies to take the agility test—sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run—which is a first step in the hiring process, Evans said.
Should they decide to pursue a career with the sheriff’s department, patrol deputies typically go through about six months of basic academy training at the Riverside facility, while correctional deputies must attend nine weeks.
“This is all part of our efforts to recruit women,” said Sgt. Lisa McConnell, who in her current role as a public information officer, works with the media on a daily basis.
McConnell said several of the department’s high-ranking women who were present Tuesday will also be in attendance on Saturday.
“What is neat about the women’s challenge is our recruiters and our specialized units will be there to speak to participants,” McConnell said.
She noted that not only are female deputies sought, there is a continual need for dispatchers, office clerks and cooks to work in county jails.
“We teach women different techniques in terms of how to do the job because physically we are different,” McConnell said.