Police raise minimum age to 25 for new recruits
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporter
Police Supt. Jody Weis speaks Thursday during an announcement that the police department will administer a written exam on Dec. 11 and is raising the minimum age for applicants to 25.
The Chicago Police Department has raised the minimum age for becoming an officer to encourage a more mature force - and is offering a new hiring preference for military veterans, officials said Thursday.
But the department is not scrapping a requirement that applicants complete at least two years of college - something the chairman of the City Council's Police Committee had sought to "level the playing field" for minorities.
Police Supt. Jody Weis announced the department will administer a written entrance exam on Dec. 11 - the first test in four years. The department will accept applications through Nov. 26.
The department is raising the minimum age for applicants from 21 to 25. The maximum age is 40.
The department also is creating a new preference for military veterans. A minimum of 20 percent of applicants picked for each class will be veterans - as long as enough veterans apply, the department said. The department will hold three makeup exams for returning veterans unable to take the regularly scheduled pre-employment exam.
Members of the armed forces with a minimum of three consecutive years of active duty can apply even if they are as young as 21 years old and haven't gone to college, according to Weis. In the past, veterans needed four years of active duty to waive the department's education requirement of 60 semester hours of college credit.
All other applicants must be at least 25 and meet the college requirement.
Chicago will hire as many as 200 more police officers next year - in addition to a 120-member class that entered the police academy last month - to ease a manpower shortage. The city budget includes funding for hiring two new classes of recruits. Each would include 75 to 100 recruits.
A two-year hiring slowdown has left the Chicago Police Department more than 2,300 officers a day short of authorized strength, counting vacancies, medical leave and limited duty.
Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council's Police Committee, unsuccessfully called for the department to drop the requirement that applicants complete at least two years of college to open the door for more minorities to become recruits.
On Sept. 1, a class of 120 recruits entered the police academy to begin six months of training, depleting a 2006 hiring list.