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Raising the minimum age for Chicago cops -- smart move or short-sighted?

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It's hard to argue against having police officers on the streets of Chicago who have the maturity and life experience to deal with high-stress situations in a level-headed, responsible way.

So the Chicago Police Department's decision to raise the minimum age for applying to be an officer by four years sounds like a good idea in theory.

But we're concerned about the unintended consequences the change might have for the city's police force.

Police officials say the goal behind raising the minimum age is to attract more mature candidates.

Instead of being 21, applicants must now be at least 25 to take the police entrance exam.

The one exception would be military veterans who have served at least three consecutive years of active duty. They can still apply after they turn 21.

Giving preference to veterans makes sense, since the training and discipline military recruits acquire during their service would seemingly make them well-suited for police work.

But our concern is that raising the age requirement for everyone else would exclude qualified candidates who aren't willing or able to wait until they're 25 to start their chosen career path.

Then, if you factor in the years many candidates wait after the police exam before they are called to join the police academy, you're looking at an even older (and possibly less physically fit) police force.

We also wonder what impact the change will have on officers' pension benefits, if they're joining the police force later.

Finally, raising the age requirement to 25 is a slap in the face to the young men and women who joined the police department's cadet program in high school or college with the expectation that they would be able to take the police exam soon after.

The program allows people between the ages of 17 and 21 to work in districts and learn how officers do their jobs.

Not surprisingly, many cadets now feel betrayed that the police department is changing the rules on them halfway through the game.

Maybe Supt. Jody Weis has considered all of these issues and deemed them less important than improving the maturity level of would-be officers. Maybe there's a serious problem with the caliber of the young recruits coming in that we don't know about.

We can't be sure, though, because department officials haven't said much about how they arrived at the decision. Questions sent to a police department spokeswoman Friday have not yet been answered.

While we're waiting, what do you think?

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8 Comments

You can bet that The Chicago Police Pension will move to a second tier PROBABLY within the next year. New hires will have to wait anywhere from age 55 to 60 to retire. In the end it all balances out.

Wow another boom by top cop it is ridiculous what Jody weis just did changing the age for the cpd exam if a person can go to war at the age of 18 why would you want to change the age requirement for the exam from 21 to 25 doesn't make no sense. And for veterans is 21 that's not fair I have been waiting since 06 for this and I'm 24 with a criminal justice degree and this is what I get , you got these veterans who have fought in the war who are not all there and you say you gonna put at least 20% of them in the academy , these veterans have the same mentality as a college graduate probably less, I guess it's all politics good job Jody

A police force is not neccessary. It's a luxury that many cities can no longer afford. There are many locations, societies, that don't have a police force. Chicago should rid itself of their expensive police force. The pigs have become a force/power unto itself. It can victimize innocent people more easily than it can protect people from criminals.

The best approach to crime and safety is to have an armed society. Every person's security and safety is their responsibility (not the govts').

Govt is always our worst enemy.

That which governs least, governs best.

Once again, ageism rears its ugly head. From 16 year olds being denied the right to vote, to 18 year olds who can fight for their country being denied the right to have a beer, this is yet another example of older folks discriminating against the young because they can.

"Police officials say the goal behind raising the minimum age is to attract more mature candidates."

I think that's a fine goal. But "maturity" does not necessarily correlate with age. As we all know, there are mature 18 year olds (or 16 year olds!) and immature 30 or 40 year olds. Setting these sorts of arbitrary age barriers is simply laziness on the part of the police department. It doesn't want to take the time to thoroughly examine each police office candidate individually to determine whether they have the maturity to become cops.

Hiring an older candidate is a good strategy to select maturity. However, the most important issue for selection remains the retention of the college degree requirement. Raise the bar. Require a 4-yr. degree or a 2-yr degree combined with military experience. The professionalization of the department depends on hiring the best candidates. The hard decisions of good police work and best police practice stands on a strong mind and sound judgment.

What ever will minimize the pension liability of the local and State governments. Who cares who is really filling the spot as long as the pay and future liabilities are low!

Well seeing that the Politicians want to bring the national guard up to police Chicago, it only makes sense to raise the minimum age.

You're more likely to find someone with combat experience AND a degree in police work at 25 than 21.

Ilir,

You say that a person can go to war at age 18 and then question why a vet should be able to take the test at a younger age. you say that "you got these veterans who have fought in the war who are not all there and you say you gonna put at least 20% of them in the academy , these veterans have the same mentality as a college graduate probably less." Had you fought in the current wars the US military is involved in maybe you would understand our mentality, and would be able to say that we "are not all there" with some creditability. You can keep your degree, I would not trade my experiences in Southern Afghanistan for anything. I am glad that I was involved in the most important thing that will happen during our generations lifetime. I am glad that the CPD has chosen to show a preference to Vets like me who have sacrificed so much for our country. Had you chosen to serve you would understand and not be so bitter.

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This page contains a single entry by Monifa Thomas published on October 29, 2010 5:27 PM.

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