Police looking to hire two new officers

Recruitment efforts designed to bring in candidates before the Nov. 29 deadline

Hinsdale police are looking for a few good men — and women — to apply for one of two open officer positions with starting pay of $75,885.

“We’re aggressively recruiting because the market is so slim,” Chief Brian King said. “We started to see a downward trend during the last cycle.”

The department typically recruits officers every two years. Over his 36 years in law enforcement, King has seen cycles with 200 applicants seeking one or two positions.

“In our last cycle, I think we had 60 applicants for four positions. We’re hoping to get a pool that matches last year’s cycle,” he said. “We have heard stories from other agencies where they are down to single digits for applications.”

The most important qualifications are a commitment to public service, communication skills and a strong moral compass.

“Those three things get you in the door, put you in the process, put you on the list,” King said.

Applicants must go through a battery of tests offered by external agencies and the police department. The final step is an interview with the Hinsdale Fire and Police Commission.

“They have the authority for appointment,” King said.

The two individuals who are hired then will spend 12 weeks at one of the state’s 13 police academies — which are tough to get into right now following COVID shutdowns.

“The seats that we’re sitting on for this academy we applied and obtained better than a year ago,” King said.

After the academy, new hires will receive three months of training as probationary officers, under the supervision of three trained senior officers.

“They start by just watching and by the end of that field training, they are acting as a solo officer and that field training officer is just observing them,” King said.

That training is a real benefit to new officers, according to officer Sandra Acevedo, who has been on the force about 2 1/2 years.

“If they want to learn to do policing right, this is definitely a place to go,” she said. “Our community is small and our department is small, but you get the best one-on-one training with our officers.

“All of us are pretty well-qualified and our field training officers are awesome,” she added. “I’ve learned so much from them.”

One of a handful of new officers who have been hired since King joined the department, Avecedo said she enjoys working for him.

“He is very accepting and open to different types of people in law enforcement and different strengths in law enforcement,” she said. “I’m not the biggest person, I’m not the fastest, but he sees something special that could be applied to his department.”

New hires work the same shifts as current officers, King said, unlike some departments where rookies get the midnight shift for years. In Hinsdale, officers spend three months working nights and then three months working days. That means a more diverse workforce — and a more knowledgeable one.

“You need to learn the community,” King said. “You need to learn the different aspects of the community at different times of day.”

In a small department like Hinsdale’s, officers might be called back if someone is ill or injured or needed for a prisoner transport. And everyone works some holidays. But the perks are there, too.

“We offer a very highly competitive wage and benefits,” King said. “It’s a supportive community. It’s a supportive board. People appreciate the work that you do here.”

Officers also have the opportunity to participate on regional homicide task forces, SWAT teams, major accident investigation teams and other groups.

“Whatever your niche is in law enforcement, whatever it is that gives you a sense of fulfillment, you can find that here. It’s a small agency with a huge number of opportunities.”

Even in town — given its location — there are opportunities for challenging calls, Avecedo said.

“You get your fair share of the action of law enforcement,” she said. “It’s definitely a good place to be, that’s for sure.”

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean