RIVER GROVE, Ill. (WBBM) — For the first time in nearly three years, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police will be getting 26 new officers, as the department figures a way around belt-tightening.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, training officers were putting 49 police recruits through the paces on Monday at the training facility at Triton College in River Grove. Twenty-six of the recruits, if they make it, will become Cook County Sheriff’s police officers. The other 23 cadets were being trained by sheriff’s staff to become officers with suburban police departments.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“Today is day one, we call it Black Monday here, it’s an extremely tough day,” said Sheriff’s Police Lt. Michael Goldsmith. “We tell people once they start here, you know, whatever you have going on in your life outside of it, take preparations to put it on hold because you’re going to do nothing but eat, sleep and drink police for the next 10 weeks.”

A Sheriff’s office spokesman said no extra money was being used to hire the 26 recruits who will fill current vacancies. All of them were already working for the Sheriff’s department – including former court deputies and correctional officers – and are now going for new jobs as police officers.

Since the last new police officers were sworn in at the Sheriff’s department in 2008, the office is down nearly 50 police officers. Manpower is currently about 400, according to the Sheriff’s office.

Budget cuts have not allowed for any of those positions to be filled until now.

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