Joliet adds 9 more police officers

City budget provides for 286 officers

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

The Joliet Police Department added nine officers at the end of December, bringing the total number of new officers hired to 40 for 2022.

The city will keep hiring police in 2023.

The police department has a budget this year for 286 officers. But Joliet has only 267 officers as the city tries to replace officers taking retirement.

Joliet had 259 officers in July but more than 300 in the early 2000s.

Deputy Police Chief Sherrie Blackburn said the department will continue to hire from its current eligibility list as well as recruit “diverse, qualified candidates” at job fairs and other events.

The police department has been in a hiring mode since at least February 2021, when Blackburn joined a presentation to the city’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners on plans to step up hiring to keep up with the pace of retirements.

Joliet like many municipal police departments expanded its ranks in the 1990s with the help of federal Community Policing Grants, known as the COPS program, and many of the officers hired in that era have reached retirement age.

The COPS program became available at a time of rapid growth in Joliet, and the number of police officers topped 300 before the recession of 2008 forced the city to cut back.

Officers sworn in do not immediately hit the streets.

“After being sworn in and completing an eight-day orientation, they report to the police academy unless they are previous law enforcement officers,” Blackurn said in an email. “Prior law enforcement officers begin our vigorous field training program, which is about 22 weeks.

The nine officers sworn in Dec. 28 included two with previous law enforcement experience.