AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Amid roll call for the afternoon shift at the Aurora Police Department, there are a few empty seats in the room - and the department hopes to fill some of them soon. Like virtually all law enforcement departments around the state, Aurora is hiring.
"Everyone's increasing pay and benefits and changing schedules to try and accommodate and bring in these candidates," Aurora Police Sgt. Edgar Gallardo said.
As one of the largest departments in the suburbs, Aurora draws officers from other smaller departments because they offer more opportunities for promotion. But every department is looking for an edge in hiring good candidates.
Schaumburg officials produced a slick promotional video to try to attract candidates. They say in previous years they would have hundreds of candidates apply for just a few jobs. These days, the numbers are much smaller.
"You can never have too many police officers," Illinois State Police Sgt. Calvin Dye Jr. said.
Illinois State Police are hoping to add more officers to make up for a large number of retirements. They have started a fast track program, shortening the training from 26 to 14 weeks hoping to attract more applicants.
"Our goal is to hire at least 300 new troopers this fiscal year," Dye said.
In Naperville, they are marketing job openings like never before, even waiving the $45 application fee.
"It's a very competitive market," Naperville Police Commander Michaus Williams said. "Everybody's trying to get the same group of people to come take their test."
Law enforcement leaders point out that it's not just their profession having a hard time attracting candidates right now. It's the same in the restaurant and retail industries - in fact, most every job sector - but finding good police officers is a matter of public safety.
Illinois State Police, suburban departments actively recruiting new officers