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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami/The Miami Herald) – Broward County police agencies are looking for a few good men and women to fill vacancies.

A billboard off Interstate 95 near Oakwood Plaza advertises a message by Hollywood Police in big letters: “Serve with Honor, JOIN THE FORCE.”

According to CBS4 news partner, The Miami Herald, Hollywood has 33 vacancies.

“We are all competing for the same pool of applicants,” Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez said told the paper. “We need to get the message out there.”

The paper reported many officers left Hollywood’s force when their pay and benefits were cut in 2010 and 2011.

Fort Lauderdale has 16 openings.

“I just want to get hired,” Christian Nickerson told the paper, who was taking the swim and agility tests Thursday at the academy.

Some of the grueling things recruits must attempt include pushing a car, running an obstacle course, and a trigger-pull exam to test their hand strength.

Polygraph tests are also required.

If they are hired and not yet certified, they have to go through the police academy, which at Broward College costs about $3,600 and includes 770 hours of training — often at the department’s expense.

Joseph Tigeleiro, 22, was among those training last week.

Tigeleiro, who lives in West Palm Beach, is certified and was taking the agility test, which expires after six months. He said he has applied to Sunrise, Lauderhill and Broward Sheriff’s Office.

“Location is very important,” said Tigeleiro to the paper, saying that was his main focus when he chose which agencies which he would apply.

Recently. Hollywood agreed to a deal that increased starting salaries for officers to just over $50,000.

For new hires, Chief Fernandez told the paper it takes about a year to get the officers on the street.

Jeff Marano, president of the Broward Police Benevolent Association, told the paper the billboard adverstisement is a waste of money, especially when people perceive that violent crime is up.

“If someone wants to be a police officer, they are going to do the research,” he told the paper. “No one is going to look at a billboard and say, ‘Oh, maybe I should become a police officer.’ ”

Fort Lauderdale said it may soon use a billboard as well to get the message out. But spokeswoman Diana Greenlaw said the department does get plenty of applications.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)


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