CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Police Department has launched a concentrated effort to hire police recruits who better represent Chicago’s 77 diverse neighborhoods.
“I think sometimes it makes it a little bit easier to communicate with people, to get people to understand what it is to come from these neighborhoods,” First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger told CBS 2’s Suzanne LeMignot.
“It gives us a leg up when it comes to trying to build trust, because the officers that serve them are officers that come from the community.”
One of those recruits is Raul Martinez. Like other recruits, Martinez first had to pass a written exam, then undergo a series of tests, including a physical agility test, a psychological evaluation and a background check.
“Everything that my father was able to build on, coming here as an immigrant, really pushed me to give back to the country that gave our family so much,” said Martinez. “So this is just another way to give back and be a part of the community.”
After passing the tests, candidates go through 18 months of training to prepare for what Wysinger called “the best sides of society along with some of the worst sides of society, some things that the average citizen will never see.”
One scenario that played out when CBS 2 observed a training session involved a mock disturbance on a CTA bus.
When the training officers arrived, they encountered an unruly passenger along with other commuters upset about being late work.
“We need your cooperation, and we’ll get you guys going in a second,” one of the recruits told the passengers.
The two officers then escorted the passenger off and diffused the situation.
CPD is currently looking for people for its next class of recruits.
Candidates must be 18 or older to take the exam and 21 to be hired.
Veterans and Chicago Public School graduates are given preference, but the exam is also open to those who live out-of-state.