Chicago Police Academy graduates first class of cadets under Mayor Emanuel

April 11, 2012 9:51:56 AM PDT
The mayor welcomed a new class of Chicago police graduates Wednesday morning, the first in nearly a year.

The last time there was a class graduating from Chicago's police academy was May of last year, and it comes as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police department tries to deal with gang violence throughout the city.

Dozens of new Chicago police officers graduated from the police academy Wednesday. After a ceremony held inside Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom, they are ready to hit the streets and fight crime in the city.

Fifty new Chicago police officers recited the oath of office, promising integrity and sacrifice. Officer Michael Margolis was one of them. His parents are proud.

"They're very happy, a little scared too for me being out on the streets," said Margolis. "But I know prepared myself, and I know I'll be fine out there."

Also in the group, Jada Bailey, the daughter of fallen officer Michael Bailey, who was gunned down in the line of duty in the summer of 2010.

"My father would just be so proud of me right now," Bailey said. "And I know he's looking down, and I know he's excited, and I'm sure that I'll do him well."

But, as 50 officers are added to the force, the Fraternal Order of Police reminds the public that about 600 officers leave every year to retirement and resignation.

It wasn't long ago that there were about six graduating classes a year, but due to budget cuts and different policing strategies, this is the first graduating class under Mayor Emanuel .

"You are the backbone of the Chicago Police Department," Emanuel said. "Everything else is about supporting you in the most important function, because as beat officers you are practicing community policing."

There is also the battle against a murder rate which in the last three months rose 60 percent compared to the same time last year.

Now the mayor is pushing for legislation in Springfield for a state law which would make it easier to charge gang offenders.

"Today we are pushing and helping you by making sure that we apply the RICO laws to those gangbangers, passing legislation in Springfield to back you up what you're trying to do on the street," said Emanuel.

Most of the officers start their jobs on the beat patrol the very next day after graduation, so there is no time to be nervous.

Officers Wednesday said they were going to take it easy and spend time with family.