Top Cops

May 2018

As police departments across the U.S. scramble to recruit officers, the Coral Gables force has zero vacancies for the first time in a decade. The reason: A nationwide effort by ranking officers to recruit from police academies and university criminal justice programs – combined with an ad blitz featuring a “Force Be with You” video of a menacing Darth Vader subdued by a Jedi cop. The Gables also promoted starting salaries of $53,551 to $76,350, plus a $2,500 sign-up bonus. 

“We went all out,” said Frank Fernandez, assistant city manager in charge of public safety.  

The numbers suggest success. In 2016, Coral Gables received only 387 applicants. Last year, that number shot up to 1,447. With five new officers on duty in February, 11 new recruits in the police academy, and two more slated to start in June, all 188 positions in the department are now filled. The number of female officers also increased, from 18 to 31. 

–Mike Clary