Q. Who is eligible to apply as an ALERT volunteer?
A. Anyone 16 years of age or older who lives, works or attends school in San Francisco is eligible to apply as an ALERT volunteer.

Q. Is there any pre-requisite for becoming an ALERT volunteer?

Yes. After clearing a basic background check (see below) you will be eligible to register for one of the four ALERT training classes offered per year. Program entry can be accomplished as follows:

  1. If you are a graduate of the SFPD Community Police Academy program, complete one 8-hour class with ALERT.  or,
  2. If you are NERT Certified**, complete one 8-hour class with ALERT.

Q. Do I have to have a background check performed to become an ALERT volunteer?
A. Yes. In your role as an ALERT volunteer you will come into contact with confidential and privileged police information which must be protected and kept secure. As such you must go through the same basic background check that all civilian employees of the police department complete. Your ALERT ID will be valid for 4 years at a time. On each 4-year anniversary you will be required to re-take the Live Scan for a re-check of your background information.

Q. I just had a Live Scan FBI/DOJ background check performed by another agency recently. Can you use those results?
A. Unfortunately, not. The background check must be performed by each agency at the time they wish to engage a volunteer or employee to ensure the most accurate information is available at that moment. Thus, SFPD must conduct the background check, even if you have just successfully passed one with another agency.

Q. If I have a criminal record, will that record preclude me from passing the background check and volunteering with ALERT?
A. Not necessarily. Much will depend on the nature, disposition and date of the crime for which you were prosecuted. The most important thing is to be completely honest and forthright in completing the background check paperwork. If you don’t note a prosecution that background investigators subsequently discover, that will almost certainly exclude you.



Q. Where is the ALERT training conducted?
A. Most initial training classes are conducted at the SFPD Police Academy, 350 Amber Drive in San Francisco.

Q. What does the basic ALERT training consist of?
A. The basic ALERT training program consists of 8 hours of classroom and practical exercises at the SFPD Police Academy location. The training is taught in English, is very low impact and is suitable for everyone. It will include approximately 7 hours of classroom time and one hour of outdoor activity.

Q. What are the re-certification requirements for ALERT volunteers?
A. ALERT volunteers are required to attend at least ONE ALERT training drill per calendar year to remain on the active deployment (eligible) roster. A volunteer missing all quarterly training drills for two consecutive years will be required to attend a new member 8-hour training class in order to regain certification.

Q. What do the ALERT re-certification drills consist of?
A. The drills will consist of various practical and classroom exercises to expand upon, reinforce and solidify the training and techniques taught during your initial certification. The drills also offer an opportunity for new skills and procedures to be introduced to volunteers as new requirements become necessary.

Q. How long is each ALERT re-certification drill?
A. The drills will vary in duration but typically will be around 4-5 hours. The drill duration will be announced well ahead of the drill date to allow you to add the drill into your schedule. Attendance for the entire drill duration will be required in order to re-certify in that drill.



Q. Where do I report to during a disaster if ALERT volunteers are activated?
A. ALERT has two principal assembly and deployment locations for volunteers during a disaster activation. If you are WEST of Twin Peaks, make your way to Taraval Police Station at 2345 24th Avenue. If you are EAST of Twin Peaks, make your way to the Special Operations Bureau at 17th St & De Haro Street.

Q. How will I know if ALERT volunteers are being activated?
A. The ALERT program will contact you by e-mail, text or voice-mail if any of these communications methods are available following a disaster. Alternatively, Emergency Broadcasts by radio stations will announce the activation of civilian volunteer Disaster Service Workers and may specifically mention ALERT volunteers.

Q. Once I’m certified as an ALERT volunteer, what happens next?
A. You will be eligible to participate in our regular ALERT Drills as well as other training opportunities and multi-agency exercises. You can also take on supporting roles for ALERT by attending community events and meetings to promote ALERT and encourage new volunteers to join. Depending on your level of involvement with the ALERT program (and other factors), you may also be asked to consider becoming an ALERT Team Lead, where you would guide a group of ALERT volunteers in the successful performance of an assigned task or tasks. Should a disaster occur, and ALERT be activated, then you would report to one of the two assembly areas for assignment and deployment.

Q. I am required to respond as a DSW as part of my employment obligations. Does it make sense to participate in ALERT if I won’t be able to respond with you during a disaster?
A. Absolutely. ALERT is significantly involved in pre-disaster planning, preparation and educational outreach. Your involvement and support of these efforts, your participation in our drills, and the knowledge you bring from your employment disaster response obligations are extremely valuable and you will have many opportunities to contribute in other ALERT functions beyond disaster response throughout the year.

Q. If I report to one of the ALERT assembly / deployment locations during a disaster response, what kinds of tasks might I be assigned?
A. You could be assigned to an administrative position at the Command Post (calling in all Police Reserves, signing-in volunteers, assisting with information in-take), or work closely with full-time and/or Reserve Police Officers who are deployed for traffic control, foot patrol of business and residential areas, report criminal activity, looting and property damage observation, work in partnership with other emergency organizations, assist with medical aid, deliver logistical supplies, secure resource locations, direct individuals to mass casualty and shelter locations, or assist at reunification centers.


For more information on the ALERT Program, go to or

email us at [email protected]; or call Sgt. Mark Hernandez (SFPD, Ret.), SFPD ALERT

Program Coordinator, at (415) 558-5545.