CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Police Department has tweaked its plan to raise the minimum application age for police recruits to 25, in the face of opposition from the Fraternal Order of Police and some aldermen.
Instead of requiring anyone interested in becoming an officer to wait until they’re at least 25 years old to take the police entrance exam, the new policy would allow them to take the test when they’re 21, according to a department news release.
Applicants would still have to wait until they’re 25 to be hired, unless they have at least three consecutive years of active duty in the armed forces.
“To address questions and concerns, we are revising the minimum age requirement for non-military applicants,” Police Superintendent Jody Weis said in a statement. “We believe this will not only cast a wider net of applicants but remain consistent with our intended goal to encourage a more established and mature police force.”
Anyone who passes the test will be placed on a referral list and will be picked for the Police Training Academy on a lottery basis. Non-military applicants who are picked for the lottery before they turn 25 will be stay on the referral list until they’re old enough to be hired.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who chairs the City Council Police & Fire Committee, and FOP President mark Donahue were planning to try to block the original plan to raise the minimum application age for police recruits to 25.
But, in light of the change announced by the department, Beale and Donahue told the Sun-Times that they were satisfied with the compromise.
Chicago will hire as many as 200 more police officers next year — in addition to a 120-member class that entered the police academy last month — to ease a manpower shortage. The city budget includes funding for hiring two new classes of recruits. Each would include 75 to 100 recruits.
A two-year hiring slowdown has left the Chicago Police Department more than 2,300 officers a day short of authorized strength, counting vacancies, medical leave and limited duty.
On Sept. 1, a class of 120 recruits entered the police academy to begin six months of training, depleting a 2006 hiring list.