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Chicago police recruits rarely flunk out, raising concerns about training the headline at proclaims. Copy that. Just three percent of Windy City cops bounce out of the academy. As our resident math maven Foghorn will tell you, you can round that down . . .

to zero. The former head of the Police Academy isn’t saying much about the reasons behind the high pass rate — except that it ain’t no big thing.

Retired Deputy Chief Howard Lodding, who led the academy from 2009 to 2013, said he could not explain why the department’s attrition rate is so much lower than those of some other academies, but he said he and his staff kicked out recruits when necessary.

“Just because you lose people doesn’t make you a better police department,” he said. “You’re not there to fail people — you’re there to ensure that they have the skills necessary to go on and do that job.”

So instead of a participation badge, lousy recruits get a real badge! By the way, the comparison was with the Los Angeles PD, which flushed 16 percent of their recruits. Which is still worryingly low.

And now to ballistic qualifications . . .

Between 2013 and mid-2016, 63 [out of 1,750] recruits flunked the Los Angeles police academy after failing firearms testing — dozens more than the number who didn’t graduate from Chicago’s academy for any reason during the same period.

Los Angeles’ shooting tests are much more extensive than those in Chicago. Los Angeles recruits have to shoot in low light and in simulated combat conditions, with varying accuracy standards. California’s state standards holds that officers have to fire more than 250 rounds in testing.

Chicago follows state standards for firearms testing, and a recruit must shoot 50 rounds total at an 8.5-by-14-inch target from 7, 15 and 25 yards, hitting at least 70 percent within varying time limits.

Just hitting it? According to a source within the force, the quals are still based on six-round revolvers. We’re still looking for the time allotted for each string and the firing procedure….

I wonder how many Chicago police officers fail their annual qualification — even after their “intensified training session.” Meanwhile, the CPD are putting more focus on their “de-escalation training.” Good luck with that; they’re going going to need it.

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  1. I could probably pass it one-handed, weak-handed.

    Most cop qualification courses I’ve seen simply aren’t that difficult.

  2. Good article, I guess my follow up question is what do most people flunk out for? I assume they already had all the psych stuff before, already did a pt test, and demonstrated some academic ability before being accepted.

  3. No surprise. Shock horror headlines last year in Brisbane Australia was that licenced shooters passed a much harder test than the state police.

    Police union blamed lack of funding and training without mentioning that they had lobbied for the lower standards. Have outshot police numerous times

    • Same here, our IPSC pistol club used to shoot against a local area Victoria, Aussie PD using their turning target training system in the 90’s.

      We flogged them every year and one year they didn’t show…. end of fun and games with them!

      • At a range one time & one of the shooters had a shirt on that identified him as being with some type of law enforcement, said he needed to practice since he had to qualify in 2 weeks. An entire 50 round box of ammo & not ONE shot center mass, blamed gun, didn’t know if he had time to get it ‘fixed’. Blurted out, you try it (saw I was hitting my targets). Emptied mag into center mass without ever having shot a gun like his. He said,” It’s NOT the gun, is it” Yup, it was him.

        • Dad was a police officer and a competitive shooter. His partner needed to be browbeaten into shooting on a regular basis, so we made it an every other weekend kind of thing. One day they showed up with a third—a fairly new female deputy, who brought her duty weapon, a S&W 5906.

          At seven yards, her group looked like she was patterning a shotgun. She kept blaming the gun, so I let her shoot my G19 while I tried the 5906.

          Needless to say, it wasn’t the gun.

  4. 8 1/2 x 14, a legal sized sheet of paper, roughly corresponds to a human torso, so at a 70% hit rate, these recruits are still shooting better, on average, that the entire NYPD at less than 20%.

    What is funny to me that each county in California has its own shooting standard for a CCW. San Francisco (where no one gets that far anyway), the applicant must shoot the same course of fire as a recruit, with the same hit rate, in order to qualify. I’d bet dimes to donuts that Dianne Feinstein was the last person to run through that course. I think San Diego has a qualification at the same ranges as Chicago, but it is a timed course of fire and also requires an 85 to pass. Way up here in the north, all they care about is that you took the paper training and that after the live fire training you can safely handle your firearm. There is no test per se.

  5. The remarkably low attrition rate (3%) from the “intensive” training regime of the Chicago Police Department Academy is clearly the product of the rigorously comprehensive and “stringent” recruiting and vetting process…?

  6. When we start talking about the percentages, how about the percentage of recruits whose parents are members of the force? Chicago and NYPD as well, decades of rumor have the jobs as hereditary, never mind qualifications, it is “who’s yo’ daddy” that is important.

    • Likely a better system than “what color are you”? Or “how much did you donate to demtards last election” or “How many times did you vote demtard last election”

    • The Texas Rangers have one of the highest nepotism hire rates of any group in law enforcement, amazing how Ranger sons, nephews, and brothers always seem to be more qualified than applicants whose daddy, uncle, or brother aren’t Rangers.

      • In TTAG land everybody on earth is a better shot than cops. And, they know how to do the job better too, no matter that they have never done it.

        • Usually people with low to low-average I.Q. like the majority of cops are at a disadvantage when it comes to all cognitive skills, including motor function.

  7. “The trouble wasn’t all the Department – the trouble was the City’s ‘Human Rights’ board who forced the Department to take all comers, regardless of whether or not they could pass the Academy…or the background checks. The most infamous was the kid who couldn’t pass the firearms course unless you put two targets down range so he could aim at the second target to hit the one in his lane. We figure that one is only a matter of time until the City pays out an 8-figure settlement.”

  8. 70% just to hit the target? Oh well it’s Chiraq for you. I failed the county sheriff(not Chicago)long ago. Fantastic on the physical part…but I had a certain “moral flexibility”. Not shocked about Chiraq-and they are overrun with applicants.

  9. I can imagine that few people want to work for the Chicago Police Department. When you have very few takers, you cannot afford to flunk-out a large number of them.

  10. Considering I shot the new FBI qualification test last weekend with a XDs 45 and passed at instructor level. I don’t think the Chicago test will be a challenge.

  11. Just one quick question to any current members, or veterans of the armed forces:

    How many kids showed up on day one of recruit training, and how many were there on graduation day?

    I did a stint in the Marines over 20 years ago, and we dropped one guy out of 65 for “failure to adapt”. ONE (1) recruit. That was the MARINES!!

    • The kids that flunked on the range got a “do over” week, then rejoined the platoon, graduated on time. About 4 or 5 of them.

      • That’s what I was alluding too, if you pre vet your candidates you don’t have to drop that many. I bet not too many people flunk out of MIT either.

        • Well played sir. well played.

          The vetting for the Marines was rather stringent. No fellons, no dopeheads, no commies, no tattoos below the elbow. Still, to be honest, I think a few more dickheads should have been sent packing by week 3. Hell, looking back, I aint sure I would have allowed my 18 year old self to even survive. But that’s what age does to a man I guess.

        • Yeah… The corps has gone downhill since your time. We had a recruit damn near catch a court for taking a swing at our recruit company CO.

        • matty9, The vetting may have been rather stringent if you were a white male (though I have my doubts, as I’ve known some sketchy white male vets). Otherwise, not so much. Lots of ‘allowances’ to make the racial/sex quotas. There’s several thousand active gang members in the Marines alone, let alone the rest of the Armed Forces (10K+ by even internal estimates).

    • 46 years ago, my Marine platoon went from 70 to 65 by the time we went to the range. None were kicked out of the Corps, they just needed additional training. They went to; Physical Conditioning Plt, Educational Plt., 2 were injured and only 1 to Motivational Plt. ( he took a swing at a D.I.) We had 2 roll into our Plt. after recovering from injuries. Everyone of us qualified at the Range, no reshoots.

    • My case is different, but I’ll play. I went through USAF OTS, and we lost a BUNCH (I don’t know the exact numbers). See, about half way through, the draft lottery numbers were drawn for the first time, and those with high numbers were essentially guaranteed they would not be drafted, and a lot, possibly a majority, of those with numbers over 300 quit the next day. Not a big shock, when you think about it, they were avoiding the Army during wartime, once that was over they had lives they wanted to get on with. OTOH, USAF pilot training came next. Of every 100 applicants, 2 were accepted, and 1 graduated. A 50% washout rate of those who actually entered. And the “pre-vetting” was extreme, took more than a year of shrink testing and medical evals, before you showed up. It is my understanding that the success rate is much higher today.

  12. “By the way, the comparison was with the Los Angeles PD, which flushed 16 percent of their recruits. Which is still worryingly low…”

    Eh. 16% doesn’t seem that bad to me. Remember that you don’t get sponsered to an academy without vetting beforehand.

    But 3%? Either the vetting process there is the best ever or they’re passing people because they don’t have enough cops. Or because they’re afraid of getting sued for bouncing the wrong people.

  13. meh. Whats the big deal. Constitutional carry must mean something. If people don’t need a test, neither do cops.

    There is a strong incentive for cops to self-prepare, Paper does not shoot back. Test or no test. Walking into a gunfight unprepared will get you killed.

    • There is a stronger incentive for non-cops to prepare. They face the same physical dangers in a gunfight, along with the legal/liability dangers afterward that most cops never have to (personally) face.

    • “If people don’t need a test, neither do cops.”

      Ummm No. Citizens carrying arms is a protected right. Government employees being armed while on the job is a privilege that the citizens can remove from the government employees. Don’t like it? Find honest work where you aren’t living off the sweat of the tax payer’s brow.

        • No, it’s because once you work for the government you have very limited rights so long as you are on the job. That’s the case whether you’re a cop or a teacher or a secretary in the courthouse.

  14. Well, I unknowingly shot the Chicago police requirement last Thursday with a brand new LCP 2. I would have qualified with a pocket pistol that I had never fired before. I had a hit rate of over 90%, with 325 rounds downrange. I probably qualified to be an instructor. *rolls eyes*

  15. I got my sister to shoot a typical man-sized target at 25 yard (to see if she could handle a 9mm or needed a 380) and she got enough hits on paper (of the 34) I didn’t notice a substantial number missing, even if the shots were all over the paper (was not a particularly accurate gun either, it was an M&P with stock trigger). Keep in mind she hasn’t shot in years beyond a 22 a few minutes before.

    What the hell is the Chicago PD doing?

  16. This is a weak showing by cops.

    Standard NRA bullseye pistol shooting calls for five rounds in 10 seconds in the rapid fire stage, five rounds in 20 seconds for timed fire. You have to shoot one-handed, at 50 feet indoors (usually with a .22) and at 25 yards outdoors (usually a 1911 .45 is the pistol). There’s a mandatory mag change every five rounds.

    Slow fire outdoor bullseye is 10 rounds in 10 minutes at 50 yards, again, single-handed, 50 feet for indoor .22 courses of fire. The 50 yard target is 21×24″, with a 8″ black circular area (which consists of the X-ring, 10, 9 and 8 rings).

    This police qual shooting? This would be like falling off a log for a bullseye shooter. You get to use two hands!

  17. I was once told by the public defender in a nearby large city that the typical cop on the force barely managed a C- grade average in schooling above high school.

    We wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who squeaked by so poorly — why do we tolerate it in cops?

    • because quality people with economic options aren’t likely to want to be cops in some of the more dangerous big cities. the smart cops that do join tend migrate to better districts/areas.

      sure, there are exceptions. but they aren’t common.

    • Because being a cop is not rocket science. In truth, I did not know that education beyond high school was even required to be a cop.

      • Not rocket science, no — but it is problem solving, conflict resolution, crisis intervention, psychology, and a lot more.

        I have met cops who will pull a line out of the little guide book to laws that they carry and apply it as the whole law, ignoring the rest of the sentence that specifies when it actually applies or doesn’t. Perhaps worse, I’ve met cops who treat the law like God, and insist on enforcing it whether it makes sense or not. The law is a tool, not a deity, and cops have to be smart enough to know when to use it and when to let people be.

      • I know three doctors, and none of them would agree — where they went to school, a D meant a re-do of the entire year, not just the course.

    • “…why do we tolerate it in cops?”

      Because the politicians want knuckle draggers who will follow orders and kick down your door to seize your guns, not Constitutional scholars who will reflect on the morality of their actions.

      Chicago P.D. still does not require a university degree. It’s 2017, and last I knew they started out at about $45,000, then escalate to $65,000 in a couple of years for the average flatfoot patrolman.

      • yea, cops are so dumb and evil. Maybe where you live but my agency has 4th amendment training at least 4 times a year.

  18. Everyone is so focused on the ability to shoot when the decision to shoot or not shot is so much more important. The LaserShot situational exercises are the most valuable part of my annual qualification.

  19. well, let’s be realistic here: who the hell wants to be a chicongo cop in the first place?

    it’s not like they can afford to turn away too many applicants!

  20. I’m gonna leave this as vague as I possibly can and not reply to comments. When a recruit fails firearms, or is failing, the instructors are the ones questioned and in trouble. And decisions are made well above their pay grade. I’ve seen some horrific shooting. And our guys get well over 1,000 rounds during a two week period.

  21. I went through that entire qualification procedure and nowhere do they actually define the required course of fire. I guess that affords a certain degree of flexibility when you can make it up on the spot to accomodate everyone’s level of marksmanship.

  22. Is there a link to the Chicago PD standards?
    Shoting s tandards are probably like physical fitness standards (Cooper Test = 1 min push-ups, 1 min sit-ups, 1.5 mile run).
    The hardest part is the background check. Some classes they graduate with minimal fitness (30 push-ups, 13 minutes on run); Some classes selection is much tougher than other classes graduation. It all depends on the pool of candidates.

  23. I’m shocked that things aren’t a lot better in Chicago with Rahm Emanuel at the helm.

    If you can’t tell, I speak fluent sarcasm

  24. Here is the qualification course required by the State of Illinois. I found this by searching on the net for about 30 seconds . . . . this is NOT a very difficult course of fire.

    Section 1720.APPENDIX C Firearm Qualification Course-of-Fire

    1) Target Scoring Area: 8½ x 14 inch overlay/center mass of target. The defined firearm types are: Semi-auto/Revolver handgun; minimum capacity 5 rounds

    2) For Duty Handgun Qualification, all stages of fire will commence from a secured holster. For Off Duty/Retired Officer Qualification, all stages of fire will commence with the handgun in hand from the “low ready” position. A passing score is 70% = 21 hits on center mass.

    3) Where indicated below, the word “DRAW” requires the shooter to withdraw the handgun from a secured holster on the command to fire. The word “PRESENT” means that the shooter has the handgun in the shooting hand in low ready (depressed muzzle) position and stands ready for the command to fire under the following conditions:

    5 Yard line – Total of 12 rounds

    Stage 1 Draw/Present and fire 2 rounds in 6 seconds

    Stage 2 Draw/Present and fire 2 rounds in 6 seconds

    Stage 3 Draw/Present and fire 2 rounds in 6 seconds

    Stage 4 Draw/Present and fire 2 rounds in 6 seconds

    Stage 5 Draw/Present and fire 2 rounds in 6 seconds

    Stage 6 Draw/Present and fire 2 rounds in 6 seconds

    Shooters will reload without command as needed between stages of fire.

    7 Yard line – Total of 12 rounds

    Stage 7 Draw/Present and fire 3 rounds in 7 seconds

    Stage 8 Draw/Present and fire 3 rounds in 7 seconds

    Stage 9 Draw/Present and fire 3 rounds in 7 seconds

    Stage 10 Draw/Present and fire 3 rounds in 7 seconds

    15 Yard line – Total of 6 rounds

    Stage 11 Draw/Present and fire 3 rounds in 10 seconds

    Stage 12 Draw/Present and fire 3 rounds in 10 seconds

    Stage 12
    25 Yard line-: Draw/Present and fire 3 rounds in 15 seconds
    (in lieu of the second 10 second /three round string at 15 yards)

    4) The above course-of-fire is the minimum standard required. Any agency may include any modification that increases the level of difficulty such as reloading, alternate hands, movement, time restriction, or other job related skills.

    (Source: Added at 30 Ill. Reg. 7925, effective April 11, 2006)


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