Suburbs, other states work to lure police officers away from Chicago

Close-up of a police officer's service revolver
Photo credit Getty Images Stock

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Police departments in warmer states – or even the suburbs here – are hiring away Chicago police officers. The moves follow higher crime and lower morale in the city.

A billboard on the Kennedy Expressway beckons with palm trees and a beach, saying "Wish you were here. We’re hiring.”

The Sun-Times reported the pitch from Fort Lauderdale police has helped lure five Chicago officers recently, as well as 42 applications.

Additionally, at least 19 suburban agencies have hired more than 50 officers from the city in the past three years, with dozens more applications pending. It’s due in part to a new state law that lets police officers transfer five years of service to a suburban pension system.

According to Northbrook Police Chief Chris Kennedy, the department received 40 applications from Chicago officers for one pending job opening there.

“Just from the people I’ve talked to, everyone is trying to get out if they can,” Kennedy told the Sun-Times.

And the Arlington Heights Police Department likes to refer to themselves as the 26th District. They started hiring Chicago cops about 15 years ago, according to the Sun-Times.

Currently, 19 former Chicago officers work in Arlington Heights, including five who made the move in 2021, four in 2020, and three in 2019.

“I’ve never had anyone swearing at me or threatening to beat me or hurt my family, nothing like that,” a former Chicago cop who took a job in Arlington Heights in recent years told the Sun-Times. “I’ve never even felt at risk since I’ve been here, not that anything like that can’t happen..."

The Cicero town spokesman said Officer Ella French had asked for transfer paperwork days before she was shot and killed on the job.