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Do You Have What It Takes To Join the Chicago Police Department?

The CPD is accepting applications for the first time in three years. You want in? Here are six things you need to know.

Calling all citizens: The Chicago Police Department is looking for new candidates.   Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

Starting today, officer hopefuls can apply to take the department’s written exam. Those who pass the test will be added to a pool of pre-qualified applicants. The department will then choose recruits from the list via lottery. May the odds be ever in your favor?

Anyway, this is the first time in three years that CPD has sent out a hiring call, and they’re only taking applications until September 16th. Still, that gives you a month and a half to fill out the online form. After that, there’s plenty of time to study for the exam, which will be administered in December.

In the meantime, here are some specifics on what it takes to join the city’s finest:

Eligibility

You have to be a U.S. citizen and resident of the City Chicago at the time of hire.This means that you can still apply even if you don’t currently live here. Your name might sit in the applicant pool for a few years before its called, just be sure to move inside city limits before that happens.

Age Restrictions

The minimum age requirement has been lowered from 25 to 21. However, due to the time of hire caveat mentioned above, 18-year-olds can still apply, they just won’t be processed until they approach 21. Also, apologies to all those over the hill, but the Municipal Code of Chicago bars anyone 40 or older from being appointed as a probationary Police Officer.

Education

The police department wants their candidates to be both physically and mentally fit. They require you have 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) under your belt from an accredited college or university. This may be waived, however, if you’ve served three continuous, active duty years for the U.S. Armed Forces or have served one year active duty and have logged 30 semester hours (45 quarter hours).

P.O.W.E.R. Test

Say you’re a qualified candidate; you pass the written exam and are pulled from the lottery. You’re then subjected to a rigorous background investigation; drug screening; medical exam; psychological evaluation, and the Police Officer Wellness Evaluation Report.
Known as the P.O.W.E.R. test,  this is basically one of those physical fitness trials from high school gym class, but with higher stakes. The four tests include sit and reach, one minute of sit-ups, one repetition of your maximum bench press, and a 1.5-mile run. Performance requirements are based on age and gender. Get an idea how much weight you’ll have to lift on page six here.

How much does it cost?

As with any rigorous application, the CPD hiring process has a fee. The written exam costs a non-refundable $30. If you don’t pass, you’re out of luck. Those who do pass will be added to the eligibility list. Eligibility lists are retired after anywhere between three or five years, or until all the applicants have been processed.

How much does it pay?

The current starting salary for a CPD officer is $43,104, which increases to $61,530 after a year and $65,016 after 18 months. Benefits include healthcare plans, paid sick leave and vacation days, tuition reimbursement, a pension plan, and—of course—the honor of serving the great city of Chicago.

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