CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time since 2003, the Chicago Police Department is launching a recruitment effort to put more officers on the street.
Mayor Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy are kicking off the drive today, with a particular focus on hiring minorities and increasing department diversity.READ MORE: Three Men Shot In Robbery Attempt Outside Garfield Red Line Station
Interested candidates have until Dec. 16 to apply.
The department is looking to hire between 300 and 500 new officers a year.
Interested candidates must take a written exam in February. When it was previously offered, 19,000 people took it.READ MORE: Police Search For Parents Of Michigan High School Shooting Suspect After They Are Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter
“We all know the environment that we’re living in, over past couple of years,” McCarthy said. “Some people say now is not the time to be a police officer. I say the opposite. It’s never been a more important time to make a difference in our community. It’s the most fulfilling thing you can do with your life.”
According to police statistics, crime fell 5 percent in October, compared with the same period a year ago.
However, the city had its deadliest September in more than a decade.
Police say the lower rates in October can be attributed to a gun buy-back program and improving police and community relations.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Half And Half Weekend