CPD will waive college requirements for some new hires

The Chicago Police Department announced it would expand its pool of applicants by scrapping the longstanding requirement of 60 college credit hours for those with certain work experience.

The move comes as the department has seen high attrition rates over the past year, with dozens of officers retiring or seeking work in other municipalities across the country.

Qualified applicants should work in certain occupations for at least three years before the college credit requirement can be waived. This includes experience as a police officer, correctional officer, detention officer or licensed security professional.

Those who work in the professional trade industry, social services, health care services or an education professional are also eligible for the exemption.

Chicago Police Superintendent. David Brown said Thursday that the move will not only help expand the department, but also diversify it.

“I think there’s a diversity and life skills that will benefit this profession tremendously,” Brown said. “We really want to broaden the pool to include more diversity and I would just say, for me personally, for more women.”

The department already offers a waiver of those college credit requirements if an applicant has at least two years of military experience — which will remain in effect.

Brown acknowledged that the CPD faces stiff competition from suburban police departments that don’t have the same minimum requirements. He hopes it can help attract people to Chicago and those who want to make positive changes to the city’s police department.

“This great challenge of policing in this country, the social justice movement, the reform movement and many people – especially diverse people in this country – want to be part of this reform and this change,” Brown said. . “And our message to them is, ‘It starts with you.'”

Brown said many people from diverse backgrounds may not have had a chance to go to college and earn 60 credit hours. They may have had to work immediately and those experiences, he said, are worth an opportunity as a Chicago police officer.

Antoinette Ursitti, deputy head of CPD’s training and support group, agreed with Brown’s assessment.

“Life experience really makes a huge difference…and we see that at the rookie level as much as when you really start getting into the continuing education program,” Ursitti said.

The change in a longstanding CPD hiring policy comes as the department launched its first recruiting team which had an advertising and travel budget to help bolster its waning workforce.

Police departments across the country have faced a dramatic increase in retirements and have struggled to recruit for these vacancies — a problem faced by other industries as well.

But the CPD has seen a dramatic decline.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in January that it had about 13,000 sworn officers at the start of 2021, but that number has fallen to around 11,900. Last year, 720 officers retired, far more than the 560 who retired in 2020 or the 474 in 2019.

City Colleges of Chicago will host in-person testing for the Chicago Police Department March 17-19. Walk-in candidates will also be welcome.

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