Chicago Police Dept. welcomes diverse graduating class

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Chicago welcomed 280 new police officers to its ranks and another 57 current officers were promoted to higher ranks during Tuesday's graduation ceremony. (WLS)

Chicago welcomed 280 new police officers to its ranks and another 57 current officers were promoted to higher ranks during Tuesday's graduation ceremony.

Chicago police officials are especially proud that this class is more diverse than others, with the hope that it will help the force to better connect with the communities they serve.

Bagpipers preceded speeches by several city leaders, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

The department has struggled in previous years to recruit people of different backgrounds. A focused effort this time around has yielded a class where minorities comprise 64 percent of the new hires. Thirty-six percent of new hires graduated from Chicago Public Schools; 30 percent are women; and 10 percent are military veterans.

"These days, the decision to serve as a police officer isn't an easy one to make. There are plenty of reasons to say that it just isn't the time. That it's too difficult in this climate. Not just in Chicago, but in this nation. That the challenges are too insurmountable to face. But, each of you here today, along with the other 1,600 men and women who have joined the department since the beginning of last year, saw something different," said Supt. Eddie Johnson.

The city set out a couple of years ago to grow the number of men and women in uniform, so the department can better fight crime in the city. Mayor Emanuel has pledged to grow CPD by nearly 1,000 new officers. These most recent hires have undergone a revised training program that focuses on de-escalation tactics, the use of body cameras and cultural sensitivity training. Supt. Johnson congratulated these officers on joining a department, which is, as he put it, at the forefront of modern day policing.

This is one of the largest classes CPD has ever graduated. Since January of 2017, CPD has hired or promoted more than 2,400 members.
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