It had been almost three years this month since the Huntington Beach Police Department hired a new officer.
Officer Thomas Engle turned the tide Sept. 6 when he was sworn in by Chief Ken Small, Mayor Joe Carchio and City Manager Fred Wilson.
His hiring was the first of more to come and is in anticipation of a few planned retirements, said Lt. Russell Reinhart.
Small was given the go-ahead to hire two more officers, and the department plans to ask to hire more officers by the end of the year, Reinhart said.
Although the HBPD has 235 positions, there's money for only 212 because of budget cuts.
"We never want to be in a position where we're going to put our community at risk," Carchio said. "Public safety is the No. 1 priority in any community. You expect that in Huntington Beach because we've always been a very safe city and our officers do a great job. They always go the extra mile."
Engle was a deputy at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for four years.
Huntington Beach hires officers who have already been through the academy and have some experience, Carchio said.
"In a big department like Santa Ana or Huntington Beach, you really need experienced officers on the street," he said. "It might be different if you're working in a smaller city; then you can afford to hire someone out of the academy. It always works better when you're hiring lateral, someone who's been trained."
Engle is currently going through training before working on his own; his training includes learning the ins and outs of the Orange County court system, Reinhart said.
Once he completes his training, Engle is expected to work as a patrol officer.
"We are in the recruitment process now to create a new hiring list of eligible lateral police officers to hire from," Reinhart said.