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Chicago Police reach out to potential recruits with open house

Scott Gaughan 36 unsuccessfully tried twice pass Chicago Police exam. He intends try agawhen exam is given December. | Michael

Scott Gaughan, 36, unsuccessfully tried twice to pass the Chicago Police exam. He intends to try again when the exam is given in December. | Michael Lansu~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 6, 2013 6:19AM

Truck driver Scott Gaughan twice has tried to become a Chicago Police officer. He returned to the police academy Sunday in preparation for attempt No. 3 and the department’s first entrance exam since 2010.

Gaughan, 36, said his inability to run 1½ miles in the required time dashed each of his previous attempts.

“I think being a cop, being in on the front lines, is my call,” Gaughan said. “I want to do it every day.”

The Chicago Police Department will have its first entrance exam since 2010 in December, and it held an open house Sunday at the Education and Training Academy, 1300 W. Jackson, to let potential applicants watch demonstrations and talk with officers.

The event drew people who have always wanted to be police officers and those just looking for a job.

Spencer Guerrero, 19, comes from a family of northwest Indiana police officers and was excited about the opportunity to apply in a big city. The department has dropped the application age from 25 to 18 and lowered the age to become an officer to 21.

“It’s in my bloodline. My grandfather, uncle and cousin were all police officers,” Guerrero said. “I always thought about it as a kid, and when my grandfather passed last November I decided that’s it.”

Humboldt Park resident Marcos Ponce, 25, said he would like to one day become a detective.

“It’s been my dream since I was young,” Ponce said. “I want to serve and protect people and the community. I want to help reduce crime. I have a passion for the work.”

Qualified applicants must pass a written exam, physical fitness test, medical examination and drug screening, psychological assessment and background check.

Gaughan, who works out regularly, said the first time he took the physical fitness test was the first time he had ever run distance on anything but a treadmill. This time, he said, he will be ready.

“All that was holding me back is the run,” Gaughan said. “I just got to get in shape. Running, running and more jogging.”

The department plans several more open houses — the next one is Aug. 17 — before the Sept. 16 application deadline. Applications will only be accepted online and require a $30 application fee.

Several people said they were considering applying “because they needed a job” or were “looking for something new.” They declined to give their names.

The starting salary is more than $43,000, rises to more than $61,500 after a year and more than $65,000 after 18 months.

“Growing up to be a first responder in this day and age is great work. They are heroes. ... It’s not a job, it’s a career,” Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said outside the event.

Department officials have been attending job fairs, festivals and other events to let people know about the upcoming test. The department also created the Twitter account CPD Recruiting (@joinCPD) in late July and took a humorous approach to recruiting Sunday when it tweeted “Lallapalooza [sic] ends today. Time to start thinking about what to do with the rest of your life.”

Potential officers must be under the age of 40 and a Chicago resident when hired, have 60 semester or 90 quarter hours from an accredited college or university; or 30 semester or 45 quarter hours and have served one continuous year on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces; or have served three full continuous years on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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