The Chicago Police Department is looking for more people to apply for a chance to become police officers before the Sept. 16 deadline.
The department says about 18,000 people have started the application process since the beginning of August. "I'd love to get it up to about 30,000," Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Friday at a news conference.
"A career in law enforcement is a great opportunity," said McCarthy, who said he took his test in New York City in 1979. "And I can truly attest you never know where it's going to take you."
An open house for potential applicants will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Chicago Police Academy, 1300 W. Jackson Blvd.
This year, the department lowered the minimum age for applicants to 18 from 21. The maximum age is 40. McCarthy said he hopes the new requirement will give young people a goal to aspire to.
"These changes offer a lot of benefits to us as a department and to those that may seek a career in law enforcement," McCarthy said. "We can now ... provide a nice incentive, a strong incentive for young people to stay on the right track through a clear career path that's not years down the road. It's something that is right in front of them."
Applicants will take a written test in mid-December.
To keep costs down, McCarthy said the department offers the opportunity to take the written test only once every three to five years. The test costs about $1 million to administer, he said. "It's a lot of effort, a lot of time."
The Police Department is still drawing police academy classes from the pool of candidates who applied in 2010, the last time the test was administered.
McCarthy said that although the department has diversified over the years, he hopes to get even more minority and female candidates to replenish an older police force. Diversity is particularly important because sometimes senior officers opt to transfer into less active police districts, he said.
"We need a list of qualified candidates," McCarthy said. "We want the best and brightest, smartest, hardworking, and we also want to make sure we reflect the demographics of the community."
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