Examining Chicago Police Department’s Hiring Process and Early Warning Program

The Chicago Police Department is initiating an early warning program to identify officers that are struggling with personal or work-related issues.

I salute the effort to improve the CPD in any way possible, but I see alternative steps that will accomplish much more with less invasive actions.

early warning program

Police recruits salute during the playing of the National Anthem at the Chicago Police Department recruit graduation ceremony at Chicago’s Navy Pier Grand Ballroom March 30, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Jason Dorsey, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs)

First, everybody must be aware that the Chicago Police Department does not do the hiring; the Chicago political machine dictates hiring practices. The best candidates are often left at the alter like the would-be bride.

Diversity, or what is described to be diversity, weighs heavily upon new hires, and characteristics like intelligence, morals, and ability all place a close second.

According to Superintendent Johnson, 23 percent of the 193 new recruits are female and 56 percent are minority. This is touted as a great accomplishment. Nowhere is it mentioned about the educational degrees or abilities of the newly hired cadets.

The CPD advertised and marketed the police test to those young men and women on the west and south sides of the city, predominantly minority neighborhoods. Practice sessions and tutoring were common place. Whereas the northside was ignored because of it’s racial makeup.

Consequently, diversity is more important than fairness or ethical treatment.

Test takers had to score a grade of 60 percent to pass the police test to move on to the next portion of the testing process. That is six questions correct out of every 10 asked. The same 60 percent test result in a typical college classroom earns you a D, a single point away from failure.

If a test taker has passed this ridiculously easy trial, his or her name is placed in a lottery system where the lucky ones are drawn and called for more testing.

code of silence

Depiction of Chicago police. (Image courtesy Antoinette Alcazar)

A physical test is required and varies greatly between the genders. If the candidate passes the remaining procedures, he or she enters the CPD academy for training. If you are not one of the lottery winners, you never advance beyond the first step. That means, a person can preform excellent on the written exam and never be called to the next step.

Conversely, individuals have passed the first portion of the process by the skin of their teeth, 60 and 61 percent; have moved on to become police officers. In the eyes of Chicago’s leaders, diversity is more important than ability and knowledge.

Personally, I do not care about race, color or gender when I request police assistance, nor do the vast majority of citizens in Chicago. We simply desire the most competent officer available to help us in our moment of need.

As a result, diversity is the last thing you should think of when police are responding to a person shot or a robbery in progress.

But it’s not in the eyes of those tasked with filling the ranks of CPD.

An early warning system is a positive step to assist police officers. Yet, choosing the most qualified men and women to wear the badge is a better way to certify that taxpayers are receiving the best available police officers to protect the city.

To all my police brothers and sisters out there, lock and load and protect one another. As always, stay safe.

– Larry Casey, sergeant (ret.), Chicago Police Department, Criminal Justice professor, Wilbur Wright College. You can view his website storiesofachicagopoliceofficer.com for more information and review his book by the same name.