Cadets Train to Fill Sheriff's Officer Vacancies

Budget cuts prevented the department from filling 50 vacant positions in the past three years

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    First group of sheriff's police officers in three years begin training. And it's going to be grueling. (Published Monday, Sept. 26, 2011)

    A group of 25 new Sheriff's officers began training Monday morning to fill jobs vacated in the past three years by retirements, absence due to military duty and other factors.

    This is the first time since 2008 new officers will be sworn in after budget cuts prevented the department from filling the vacancies.

    "Budget cuts that have not allowed for any of those positions to be filled," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Monday in a statement, "even as more suburban departments turn to sheriff’s officers to carry out basic duties which those departments once performed."

    The department is down nearly 50 police officers since the last batch of cadets were sworn in back in 2008, Dart said.

    But it's going to be challenging for the recruits. The 25 new officers, including existing Cook County deputies and jail officers as well as 23 cadets being trained to become suburban officers, showed up at 6 a.m. Monday at Triton College in River Grove to begin boot camp.

    They faced a "break down" day of intense instruction, push-ups and other physical training. 

    It's part of Dart's plan to offer existing sworn officers the chance to fill the vacancies and "desperate need" in the department.