Recently there have been a lot of stories about the Chicago Police Academy and how many cadets pass. According to academy records, 97% of cadets pass their training in the academy. This has brought a lot of speculation from news media but it has also found its way to many police news and blog sites.
Most police academies have a graduation rate of somewhere around 86% or 87%. That is an average from about 600 police academies around the country. With a 10% to 11% difference in graduation of course there are going to be some questions stirred.
At police academies run by major metropolitan police departments cadets are often more likely to fail. For example, Los Angeles Police Department fails about 25% of its cadets each academy class.
We are going to take a look at some of the facts and some of the possible causes of why so much of the police academy passes.
The Fail People Mentality
Having been through the process of applying to be a police officer and knowing a lot of people that have done the same, I know there is a mentality in some locations that failing people is how you weed the bad candidates out. The job of the academy is to prepare people to be peace officers. Not to fail them.
Failing people has become so regular in both the law enforcement and military world that there are terms just for failing people at the academy. Washing out is just one of those terms.
Now this isn’t to say that every police academy focuses on failing people or that every instructor does. It is just a trend that has emerged.
A lot of people have heralded Chicago Police Department having less requirements than other police academies. That seems to be true. The shooting test for the Chicago Police Academy includes only 50 rounds. For my armed security qualification I only had to fire 42 rounds, not far away from the more extensive academy requirements of Chicago Police. However, the 50 round test is a standard for the state.
Let’s take a look at the example earlier. Los Angeles Police Department requires that 250 rounds be fired.
With the amount of time spent on firearms training, the test could stand to be more extensive. If other tests at the academy are lowered like this one, it could partially explain the increased amount of passing cadets.
There is no proof that these reduced requirements at all compromise the ability of Chicago Police officers to carry out their duties. If there was, the police academy would have gone through a revamping.
There is also the possibility that the instructors at the Chicago Police Academy are doing a more thorough job at instructing their students. They could have also taken the ever-increasing stance of going as slow as the slowest person.
By the time you get to the academy, you have already been hired by a police department. With that logic in mind, it makes sense to make sure everyone gets educated, not just focus on passing or failing. This is just one form of better training that might be employed at Chicago Police Academy.
More updated information, enhanced practices and policies, and other better training could also result in increased amount of cadets passing the academy.
The Chicago Academy also requires that cadets have about 2 years of college credits. That means they come to the academy with some form of higher education. This isn’t a common requirement. The Los Angeles Police Department does not require the same from their cadets, for example.
Legal Recourse is Effective
Some people have cited a recent lawsuit involving a police recruit who was washed out from the academy. He sued the academy and after years of legal actions against the department, the cadet won. He was reinstated into the academy in 2016 despite being accused of multiple disqualifiers, such as, being dishonest, underprepared, and a bad shot. The cadet reportedly only scored a 56% on his shooting test. He didn’t just fail it once, but twice.
Now, there is a good chance that we don’t know everything that was involved in this case but incidents like this do not reflect well upon any police academy. They do not want to pass someone who has multiple disqualifiers.
Now whether the Chicago Police Academy wrongly is passing these cadets or not is up to you to access. They aren’t the only department with high passing rates, but there aren’t too many of them.
About the author:
Ian graduated Seattle University with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held positions as an Auxiliary Department of Public Safety Officer, a Security Patrol Supervisor, and as an in-house security officer for a major medical center. Through all of this he has picked up a wealth of experience, training, and education that he is happy to pass on to others. Ian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.