Home Local Chicago police to try rehiring retired cops, in bid to bolster ranks, officials say

Chicago police to try rehiring retired cops, in bid to bolster ranks, officials say

by staff

The Chicago Police Department is launching a new effort to win back retired CPD officers and hire sworn officers serving other law enforcement agencies.

The two programs seek to bolster the police force’s ranks by allowing retired Chicago officers and officers from outside the city to get salary credit for their experience and avoid requirements that they take exams or again graduate from the police academy.


“These are great opportunities for sworn officers to join or rejoin the Chicago Police Department,” interim police Superintendent Eric M. Carter wrote in a news release.

The police force has around 1,500 vacancies for sworn officers, the department said Friday. Many officers have left the force since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a trend the department noted is nationwide.


In 2021, 660 officers retired and collected pensions, contributing to short-staffing and leaving remaining officers with canceled days off and long working hours.

The sharp decline in the police force’s ranks ebbed in early 2022. However, the number of sworn police officers in Chicago has not significantly grown as the department’s uptick in applications and new hires is matched by continued departures.

Under both new programs, officers who join or rejoin the department will go to the police academy for only “an individualized training plan” and will not have to sit for a police exam.

The new hires will also receive credit in their salaries for the years they have already been police officers, the department said.

“We recognized there was a need for these programs that we are excited to provide to qualified candidates who have a passion for service,” Carter said.

All hired officers will join the force at the police officer rank, regardless of the rank they previously held at CPD or another police department. The new hires will still be required to pass a background check and all preemployment hiring steps, the department said.

Only former Chicago police officers who are under 50 years old and have left the department in the last 36 months will be able to rejoin. The officers coming from other departments must be actively serving as sworn police officers and under 40 years old, the department said.

The department estimated the hiring process will take 10 to 24 weeks. CPD agreed to the expedited lateral hiring and rehiring programs with the Fraternal Order of Police.


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John Catanzara, the police union’s president, told the Tribune Friday evening that the FOP backed the programs “because we’re short 2,000 officers and we’re sick of working extra days and cancellations.”

“Every little bit helps,” said Catanzara, who was reelected in early March as FOP president.

The police union had been trying to get such programs in place for over a year, he said. The city hadn’t been interested at first, and putting the programs in place — especially the new lateral transfer programs — took time, he added.

Many former police officers want to come back to the department after going to other departments, Catanzara said, “but didn’t want to start from the bottom of the barrel” or have to go through the police academy again.

Catanzara said he expects the programs will eventually bring in over 100 officers in the coming months, though he predicted some officers will wait to see the outcome of the April 4 mayoral runoff election and join only if the winner is former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, whom the FOP has endorsed.

Police Department staffing has been a central issue in the race for mayor. Vallas has said he would attempt to hire 1,700 officers if elected. His opponent, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, has said he would promote 200 new detectives and invest more in alternatives to policing.



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