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Chicago Police Academy Opens Doors To Potential Recruits

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Hundreds turned out Saturday as the Chicago Police Department opened the doors of the Police Academy to potential recruits.

Recruits spoke with instructors, saw demonstrates of physical requirements and the control tactics officers use, were able to see the gun range and demonstrations of SWAT tactics and medical response, among other things.

Chicago Police Academy Opens Doors To Potential Recruits

Sgt. Larry Snelling has been on the force for 21 years and has taught at the academy for nine years. He said he looked into the eyes of the day's first standing-room-only crowd and saw, for the most part, determination.

"What I hope I saw was the future of the Chicago Police Department," he said.

He told them to be ready for the department's call.

"Stay out of trouble, stay fit, stay focused, stay committed and think about your future," he advised them.

That includes being able to do 37 sit-ups in a minute and a 1-1/2 mile run in 13:46 for the men, 16:21 for the women.

"I have some work to do," said Riqueeta Russell, a 23-year-old criminology student who said she and her sister Ashley, who also is applying, have seen Chatham turn violent as they have grown up.

She said she intends to begin hitting the gym Monday.

"I'm dedicated and I'm determined, and I'm willing to do what I have to do," she said.

Police Deputy Chief for Education and Training Howard Looding said the city is still hiring police officers off the results of the last police exam but will need to begin hiring from a new list soon.

Looding said there is a washout rate of about 10 percent during the six months recruits are in training, but he saw "determination" in the eyes of those who turned out for the open house.

"I saw excitement. I saw people who were determined, who really want to come and make a change in the city," he said.

He said the department teaches what may seem to be opposites at first -- the need for every officer of every rank to be a leader, and at the same time work cohesively as part of a unit.

"It's not easy to become a Chicago Police officer," he said.

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