Joliet hiring police

City plans to add at least 25 officers in next 18 months

Joliet Police Chief William Evans talks about his first few months on the job as Joliet’s new police chief. Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Joliet.

joliet — Joliet plans to hire more than 25 police officers in the coming year and a half.

The Joliet Police Department, like others, is trying to keep new recruits on pace with the number of veterans retiring from the police force. And, the recruitment push comes at a time when the appeal of becoming a police officer is not what it used to be.

“I believe it’s getting slightly better,” Police Chief William Evans said. “I believe people are starting to see the need for quality law enforcement.”

The city is taking applications until July 25 as it prepares for another round of testing, hiring and training.

Joliet Police Chief William Evans shares a few words after being officially introduced as the new Joliet Police Chief at the Joliet City Council Meeting. Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022, in Joliet.

“Within the next 18 months, we would like to get up to 285 police officers,” Evans said.

Joliet now has 259 officers. The current budget allows for 286 officers as the city has made a commitment to beefing up the department for at least the last two years.

In August of 2021, the city hired 14 officers, which brought the department up to 258 but still less than the 262 in the budget for last year.

Evans said about 20 officers have been hired since then, but it’s been tough keeping up with the pace of retirement among the crop of officers who came on board in the 1990s.

Thirty years ago, Joliet and other police departments expanded with the help of federal funding through Community Policing Grants, known familiarly as COPS. The federal government helped local departments expand in an anti-crime push that attracted new officers in large numbers.

The Joliet Police Station on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Joliet, Ill.

The number of police in Joliet topped 300 before the 2008 recession, which led to cutbacks in staffing.

But Evans said the the department should at least be able to get ahead of the retirement curve based on the age of officers on the force now.

“This last year we say a dramatic increase in retirements,” he said. “We don’t expect that to happen next year. We expect that to be more manageable next year.”

Joliet is able to attract between 200 and 300 applicants during testing periods, Evans said. That compares to estimates of 500 to 800 in the 1990s, he said.

But Joliet is in better shape than many communities, Evans said, in part because of high pay in benefits, but also because of local support for police.

“I’ve been pleasantly pleased how the businesses and the community in general support the Joliet Police Department,” said Evans, who came to Joliet as the city’s new police chief in March.

A Joliet news release announcing the current recruitment lists a dozen benefits of the job, including starting pay that ranges from $56,269 to $122,590.