CHICAGO (CBS) — As she visited with Chicago’s newest police recruits on Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she will be working with the heads of the Police Department and Fire Department to expand on plans for a new training academy, to make sure it is the “best in class” for now and the future.
The mayor stopped by the city’s existing police training academy Tuesday morning to meet with the latest class of recruits.
While running for office, she opposed a plan to build a new $95 million police and firefighter training academy on the West Side. She has said it won’t be big enough for the needs of the next generation of first responders, and there was not sufficient community engagement about where it would be built.
The plan was approved by the City Council, as one of the last items on former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s to-do list. Now that she’s mayor, Lightfoot said the plan to build the new academy in the West Garfield Park neighborhood is a done deal, but she still expects it will have to be bigger.
“The land has been purchased, there’s been tens of millions of dollars that have already been invested. So we have to make the best out of that situation,” she said.
The mayor said she’s not sure the new academy will be big enough to meet the current and future needs of both the Police Department and Fire Department.
“It’s going to be more than the [$95 million] that has been projected. I can’t tell you right now what the ultimate costs are going to be, but if we’re going to make that kind of investment, I want to get it right. I want it to be the best in class training facility for first responders anywhere in the country,” she said.
Lightfoot said she plans to sit down with Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Fire Department Commissioner Richard Ford II about what police officers and firefighters will need at the new academy.
The mayor’s visit with new police recruits coincided with the new application period for joining the Chicago Police Department. The city will hold its next CPD entrance exams at Kennedy-King College on the weekend of Aug. 9.
Anyone interested in joining the police force can apply now through July 8.
To apply, you must be between 21 and 40 years old when you enter the academy; and must have completed at least 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours in college, or 3 years of active duty in the military, or one year of active duty and 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours in college.
You also must have a valid driver’s license, be eligible for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, be a permanent resident of the U.S., and live in the city of Chicago.
In addition to the written exam, applicants must pass a physical test, a medical exam, a drug screening, a psychological exam, and a background check. Details on the application process are available at BeTheChangeCPD.com. https://home.chicagopolice.org/bethechange/