CHICAGO - The Chicago Police Department is on track to lose the most officers ever in a year due to retirements and the stress of the job.
The push is on to attract recruits at the toughest time to be a police officer.
Officer Darius Redmond has been on the force since 2018 and he patrols in Austin, a high-crime neighborhood that he requested.
It’s where he grew up. Redmond graduated from Michele Clark Magnet School and he said police officers spend a lot of time nurturing relationships in the community.
He talked to a group of students about his job, saying, "Don’t let anybody fool you. It’s not all bad."
They also talked about college. Officer Redmond attended Lincoln University in Missouri, an historically Black college.
Police said most people have an image of a Chicago police officer but most admit, they haven’t had actual engagement with a real police officer, not like the teenagers at Clark.
Deputy Chief Yolanda Talley rose from the ranks to become the head of the newly formed department of recruitment and retention.
"People think we’re just locking up people but we are so much more than that. I came from the West Side. I’m a lifelong West Sider, and I am proud when the girls on my block see me in my uniform," Talley said.
Talley travels the country recruiting at colleges, convincing young people to look beyond the public criticism.
She said, in her entire career, this is the hardest assignment because "the narrative with the Black community is no one wants to be the police. No one. So we're trying to change the narrative, we want to be a representation of the cross section of the city.
Redmond admitted he has tough days but he always wanted to be a Chicago policeman.
"You can work in the community you live in. Why not police the community that raised you?" Redmond said.
Talley said Redmond is exactly the kind of person the department wants.
"You can see in his everyday interactions, he wants to make the city a better place. And if you’re supportive and kind, if you want to give back to your community, then this is a career for you," Talley said.
Police candidates can take the entrance exam starting Thursday, Friday and Saturday and again in December at Chicago’s city colleges.