351 New Officers, Detectives, Sergeants Graduate Police Academy

CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the largest Chicago police graduation ceremonies in recent history was held Wednesday morning, as a class of 351 new officers, detectives, and sergeants took their oaths of office.

The ceremony was so large, it was moved from its traditional venue at Navy Pier to the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place.

“Two things really get a police chief excited: reduction in violent crime, and a large promotion/graduation class,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

In all, 80 new recruits, 140 new sergeants, and 131 new detectives took part in the graduation. Police officials said it was the largest in recent history.

Increasing manpower is in keeping with the department’s promise to add nearly 1,000 new patrol officers over the next two years, but Johnson has said it won’t solve the city’s crime problems overnight.

The superintendent gave the new graduates their marching orders for the new way the department should operate.

“Every time you interact with someone in your day-to-day duties as an officer, I want you to think about how you would want a police officer to treat a friend or a loved one. My guess is that you’d want that interaction to be professional and courteous,” he said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the department has been undergoing major changes in recruitment, training, and technology over the last year.

“I commend this leadership of the Chicago Police Department for embracing change, and making change a friend, not a foe,” he said.

The mayor also received applause when he called on state lawmakers and the governor to approve tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders.

Watch & Listen LIVE