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Facing officer shortage, Chicago Police head to Camp Pendleton In California in hopes of recruiting Marines

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police departments across the country are struggling to attract new officers and keep the ones they already have.

The Chicago Police Department is no different. They are roughly 1,100 officers short, and are now going to great lengths to bring in new officers.

CBS 2's Charlie De Mar went on assignment to San Diego this week alongside leaders with the CPD, who are trying to recruit Marines to fill the gap at Camp Pendleton.

Some 9,000 Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton transition every year from the service to civilian life. The Chicago Police Department is banking on some of them to go from serving our country to serving our city.

Some CPD officers who were once Marines themselves made the trip west to California to target those active-duty Marines who are looking for jobs.

Potential recruits at Camp Pendleton were offered the chance to take the CPD entrance exam, get drug-tested, get fingerprinted, and answer a mandatory questionnaire over a period of a couple of days. The process used to take several months.

The Chicago Police Foundation is funding the out-of-the-box idea to try to fill the shortage of officers in the city.

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020 and the burnout of the COVID-19 pandemic are just some of the challenges facing the Chicago Police Department when it comes to attracting new officers.

Deputy Chief Migdalia Bulnes is in charge of closing the gap.

"The first thing is, you know, are we making the law enforcement process too militant – that's the first question we're going to get - and no, we're not," Bulnes said. "They're individuals just like us, just like you — everybody. They're an individual. The process will weed out those who have issues. 

This is just the second time the CPD has recruited at a military base. Last month, 20 potential recruits committed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

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