Unable to keep up with attrition, Chicago Police Department may roll out the red carpet for cops who quit

| Chicago Police Department

Some former Chicago police officers who are regretting their decision to quit the force may soon have an opportunity to return to the Chicago Police Department at their old pay grade, but without seniority.

And cops from other departments who are interested in joining CPD for the first time may be offered an expedited process and a more generous starting salary. That’s all according to documents shared on Friday by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7, the union representing frontline Chicago cops.

Since March 2020, the Chicago Police Department has suffered a net loss of 1,408 officers—about 11%—according to Office of Inspector General data. During those years, CPD’s force of frontline “blue shirt” cops has shrunk from 9,779 officers to 8,455.

While city officials have frequently boasted about their efforts to recruit new cops, CPD is still failing to keep up with attrition. Now, the city may be ready to make its job easier by putting out a welcome mat for experienced officers.

The FOP document, titled “Chicago Police Department Lateral and Rehire Agreement,” dated February 27, said ex-CPD officers under the age of 50 would be eligible for rehire within 36 months of their separation date.

According to the document, former CPD officers may be welcomed back if they left on good terms and meet basic requirements like not having any debt to the city and holding a current Illinois law enforcement license. Routine steps like a drug test, background check, residency verification, and physical and psychological exams will still apply.

Rehires will go to the city’s police academy for an “individualized training plan,” according to the FOP.

The document did not provide extensive detail about the city’s process for onboarding “lateral hires,” cops who want to join CPD from other agencies. But the document said those candidates must be under 40 years old, and if hired, they will start on probationary status for “at least” one year.

The city is launching a separate program for retired Chicago police officers who want to work for the department in civilian positions.

Why would an officer who bailed out of CPD want to return to a job they didn’t like?

“It’s the same department they hated before,” noted one current officer when discussing cops who want to return to CPD.

One ex-cop told us he could “write a book on my complaints with suburban policing,” citing a lack of “discretion” as one of his major grievances with his new department.

“Better the devil you know,” said another departed Chicago cop who’s eyeing a return to the force.

Update March 20, 2023 — The city has now posted details of the rehiring program.

Update March 24, 2023 — CPD announced the program today in the following press release:


Programs allow former CPD officers to rejoin the Department and sworn officers from outside law enforcement agencies to transfer in 

CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department (CPD) today announced new programs to rehire former Chicago Police Department officers and offer lateral hires for currently employed sworn officers from other law enforcement agencies.  

“These are great opportunities for sworn officers to join or re-join the Chicago Police Department,” said Interim Superintendent Eric M. Carter. “We recognized there was a need for these programs that we are excited to provide to qualified candidates who have a passion for service.”  

The rehire program will allow for sworn officers who have previously worked at CPD to come back under an expedited process. Those eligible for rehire must have not been gone from CPD for more than 36 months and must be under the age of 50. Any individuals who are rehired will be rehired at the rank of police officer, regardless of their rank at the time of resignation. They will also be required to pass all pre-employment hiring steps and an individualized training plan through the Training and Support Group upon rehire.  

The lateral hire program establishes a process for sworn officers from other law enforcement agencies to join CPD while receiving credit for their law enforcement experience. Those hired under the lateral program must be under the age of 40 at the time of hire. They will also be required to complete a 12-month probationary period and an individualized training plan, as well as pass all pre-employment hiring steps. 

These programs build on CPD’s robust hiring efforts, which have ramped up as law enforcement across the nation see an increase in retirements. CPD’s Recruitment and Retention Unit visits different areas of the city and country to meet with a diverse groups of potential applicants. These visits include military bases, job fairs and dozens of colleges, including historically black colleges and universities. The recruitment team has also expanded entrance exam testing, with monthly in-person exams and an online exam.  

CPD is an equal opportunity employer that values diversity and looks for candidates that reflect the city’s broad cross-sections.  The Department is seeking effective problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and good communicators with the ability to interact with all members of the community and perform the role safely, effectively, and following local, state, and federal law as well as CPD policy and procedures.

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