The addition of three new officers brings the Forest Park Police Department to full strength for the first time since 2015.
Mayor Anthony Calderone administered the oath of office to Zachary Calamus, Justine Constantino and Joseph Schick at the Forest Park Village Council meeting on Dec. 18.
As Police Chief Tom Aftanas pointed out, however, the department is at full strength of 38 sworn officers only on paper. In addition to waiting for the new officers to go through the Chicago Police Academy, the department is without three others, one serving in the U.S. military overseas; another recovering from an injury; and the third still at the police academy for another month.
Calamus, 23, is from Chicago and received a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from the University of Illinois Chicago; Constantino, 24, also is from Chicago and received a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from Robert Morris University in Chicago; and Schick, 22, is from Naperville and received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Indiana University.
They will start the 3½-month training program at the police academy in January, followed by three months of field training.
They are the first officers selected from a new eligibility list created after the previous eligibility list was exhausted by the appointment of Laura O’Donnell in August.
Following the creation of a new eligibility list, the village council in October authorized Aftanas to hire three police officers.
Aftanas explained that the process began in August when 43 candidates took the written exam. Members of the Police and Fire Commission then interviewed the 20 candidates with the highest scores. The top candidates each then took a psychological examination and polygraph examination and underwent a background check.
Aftanas said previously that the level of law enforcement service has not suffered as a result of the understaffing. At least five officers continue to patrol at all times. Overtime hours and shifting staff from dedicated task forces, such as plain-clothes drug enforcement, are used to fill the shortage.
In Forest Park, police officer candidates who take the eligibility examination score additional points if they have college degrees or prior law enforcement or military experience. Preference cannot be given to individuals from any particular racial, ethnic, religious, gender or sexual orientation group.
Although the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, a state agency established in the 1960s, mandates a minimum level of requirements — such as no felony convictions for sworn police officers — individual communities can establish their own additional qualifications, too. Forest Park, for instance, requires 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university and the successful completion of a background check.