How to Become a Police Officer in Illinois

Individuals wondering about how to become a police officer in Illinois will be glad to learn that they can get their basic training skills by following any of the accredited 26-week programs approved by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

Similar to other states, aspiring candidates must first meet a few prerequisites so that their application is accepted and they become eligible for the basic training. More exactly, applicants must be US citizens, have a valid driver’s license issued by the state of IL, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have a clean record and be at least 21 before submitting the application.

The Specializations Provided by the Illinois Police Academy

In addition to the basic training to becoming a police officer in Illinois, it is worth mentioning that cadets and recruits can enroll in additional programs and get special training in:

  • Electronic criminal surveillance
  • Second division and overweight vehicle enforcement
  • Traffic crash investigation
  • Basic juvenile officer training
  • Control and arrest tactics
  • Leadership institute
  • Narcotics investigator
  • CPR/First aid
  • Radar instructor and operator
  • Canine
  • Standard field sobriety testing instructor
  • Motor vehicle theft investigation
  • First responder
  • Emergency vehicle operations course
Click here to check out the various police officer jobs in Illinois.

It is important to note that in order to meet the requirements for the aforementioned specializations, candidates must first finish the basic training with a score of at least 70 percent. Obviously, the higher the percentile score, the more chances a candidate will have to undergo the specialization of his choice; given the steep competition in certain fields.

This guide considers that there is a need for further clarifications regarding how to become a police officer in Illinois with a police field specialization. Even though it is not applicable for all fields, the general idea is that there are several levels of advanced learning with each field. By completing one, the candidate becomes eligible for more programs.

For instance, graduates that are interested in earning a specialization in at-scene crash investigation must successfully graduate the course of basic traffic collision investigation.

What Will the Recruits Learn Within the 26 Weeks Courses?

To make it very clear, in order to be eligible to apply for a police academy in the state of Illinois, candidates must bring proof of employment from a sheriff’s department or city police.

During the duration of the basic training, candidates who have been admitted in an Illinois police department will learn integrated practical sciences, will receive instructions within the classroom courses that will prove useful while in the field and will undergo physical skills training.

The good news is that the candidates that have been admitted in a police academy will receive remuneration for their training within 2 to 4 weeks.

The best courses cadets will learn, and that are worth mentioning, include the enrichment programs and advocacy. As the name suggests, the first involves acquiring more knowledge in the fields that the cadet already possesses basic knowledge, whereas the advocacy has the role of improving the future police officer’s decision-making abilities.

Illinois Law Enforcement Training & Standards Board approved police academies

It is in the best interest of candidates to always verify the websites of the institutions responsible with accreditation when searching for a police academy.

However, given that accreditations cannot be received and withdrawn overnight, here is a list of the academies that are recognized by the respectable institutions of Illinois:

  • Chicago Police Academy
  • Cook County Sheriff’s Police Academy
  • Illinois State Police Academy
  • Police Training Institute
  • Southwestern Illinois College Police Academy
  • Suburban Law Enforcement Academy, College of Dupage

Attaining a Position at a Chicago Police Department

Even though the basics on how to become a police officer in Illinois require a candidate to graduate the 26 weeks course, for graduates that are looking to get hired by the Chicago Police Department things are a bit different.

For starters, this department currently hires graduates that have at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a bachelor’s degree.

The bottom line is that applicants should have earned at least 60 hours training, as they will have a higher chance of getting a position.

However, the Chicago Police Department also accepts applications from graduates that have at least 4 years of consecutive active duty within the US army.

Other characteristics that can help a candidate stand out in the crowd and get the police officer position include:

  • Knowledge of a secondary language at expert level
  • Having additional training in law enforcement or police science fields
  • Affinity for continuous education

The ground for these high requirements is that the police department in Chicago is more competitive and higher paying, compared to the rest of the departments in Illinois.

The other police departments that are similarly rewarding and just as tough to get into include cities like:

  • Elgin
  • Rockford
  • Springfield
  • Peoria
  • Aurora
  • Naperville
  • Joliet

For more information on How to Become a Police Officer in Illinois, please visit the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board website or call (217) 782-4540.

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