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Chicago Police Dept., with 1,500 vacancies, ramps up recruiting efforts

With crime on the rise in several major categories over the past year, the Chicago Police Dept. is launching a program aimed at luring back retired officers.

Published: March 28, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

With crime on the rise in several major categories over the past year, the Chicago Police Department is launching a new program aimed at luring back retired officers and hiring more sworn officers from other agencies.

With a bottom-line goal of increasing the number of officers available to patrol neighborhoods, city officials are hoping changes that include allowing officers to get salary credit for their experience and to bypass normal requirements like taking exams and graduating from the police academy will make recruiting easier.

“We recognized there was a need for these programs that we are excited to provide to qualified candidates who have a passion for service,” CPD interim Police Superintendent Eric M. Carter wrote in a news release. “These are great opportunities for sworn officers to join or rejoin the Chicago Police Department.”

Earlier this month, authorities conceded roughly 1,500 vacancies now exist within the department, with many of the openings having sprouted up since the start of the pandemic as a growing number of officers across the country have made the decision to walk away.

In Chicago, as recently as in 2021, 660 officers retired and collected pensions, exacerbating the issue of staffing and leaving department heads scrambling to keep neighborhoods adequately patrolled. Even with an uptick in new hires in 2022, the number of sworn police officers across the city has not increased much as those numbers have been offset by ongoing departures.

With the entire hiring plan expected to take up to six months, all hired officers will join the force at the police officer rank with all the rehiring programs having been signed off on by the Fraternal Order of Police. All new hires will still be required to pass a background check and all preemployment hiring steps.

Only former CPD officers under the age of 50 and having left the department in the last three years are eligible for the program, while officers looking to join the force from outside departments are required to be actively serving as sworn police officers and be under 40 years old.

“Every little bit helps,” FOP President John Catanzara told The Tribune, adding he expects the programs will eventually bring in over 100 officers in the coming months. The issue of crime and policing has become a hot-button issue in the April 4, mayoral election, where FOP has endorsed Paul Vallas over challenger Brandon Johnson.

Vallas is on record with his plan to hire 1,700 officers if elected, while Johnson, a Cook County Commissioner, has vowed to promote 200 new detectives and invest more in alternatives to policing.

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