Deputy Chief Migdalia Bulnes, from the Chicago Police Department’s recruitment and retention unit, speaks with transitioning service members and their dependents Saturday in Bldg. 470, during a CPD hiring fair hosted by the Fort Leonard Wood Transition Assistance Program.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Senior recruiting officials from the Chicago Police Department visited Fort Leonard Wood Saturday and Sunday to conduct a special hiring fair, in conjunction with the Transition Assistance Program here.
According to Rene Dunn, the CPD’s assistant director of recruitment and retention, and an Army veteran herself, service members make good candidates for municipal law enforcement.
“We believe military personnel are very disciplined; we believe they’re pretty much ready to fill the role,” she said. “They’re already serving their country. A veteran like myself, we’re often attracted to any type of position in which we can serve our community. That’s one of the reasons why I joined at such a young age, and this is another opportunity to continue that service — from country to community.”
For anyone who hasn’t yet visited Chicago, Dunn said it is a fantastic city.
“We have a lot to offer,” she said. “We have a beautiful lake; we have tons of restaurants and museums. There’s a lot of culture in our city. Anyone who comes to Chicago will find a place that’s home for them. We’re a very friendly and welcoming city.”
With the second-largest police department in the country behind New York City, Dunn said there are many opportunities for service members.
“We have many military veterans who work for us, and some of the skills they acquire in the military have transferred over to their job in law enforcement,” she said. “We have criminal analysts; we have members on our special weapons and tactics team, our SWAT team. We have helicopters; we have a marine unit. So, there are just a lot of units service members can integrate into and use some of those skills.”
The job fair provided more than just information, Dunn said. Interested applicants were also able to complete some of the initial hiring paperwork on the spot, including some of the testing, finger printing, and the required employment questionnaire. An initial physical fitness test has been waived for transitioning service members as part of this program, and throughout the 18-month paid training process, Dunn said help is always available for the applicants and their families.
“We have someone designated to work with them from the time they sign up to the time they get hired by us,” she said. “We’re going to make sure the process is seamless, it’s smooth for them, and that they have someone to answer any questions.”
One of the attendees Saturday was Marine Pfc. Michael Grapner, a Kentucky native with a criminal justice degree and experience in the correctional field. He said he is considering the move to Chicago because the size of the city provides more opportunities to help people.
“Law enforcement is always appealed to me,” he said. “Even on the worst day of peoples’ lives, I want to be able to give them a positive outlook, maybe even the smallest bit of positivity in those worst moments — maybe change someone’s life for the better.”
Chicago-native Tracy Bell, a former service member, a mother of two children and a military spouse here, also attended Saturday’s event. She said she wants to join the CPD to be help keep her home safe.
“It’s something I look forward to,” she said. “There’s a positivity around (police officers). Whenever you call them, they’re available to help, and just talking to them, they’re not people anyone should fear. They protect us.”
Dunn said the CPD hopes to recruit at other military installations as well. She said when they initially reached out to U.S. Army Installation Management Command — which handles the day-to-day operations of Army installations across the globe — Fort Leonard Wood made the top of the list due to its relative proximity to Chicago and its position as home of the U.S. Army Military Police School.
Yolanda Johnson, a policy analyst with IMCOM’s Transition Services Branch at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, oversees the Transition Assistance Program at 58 Army installations. She said once they decided the needs of the Chicago team, and the employment opportunities available, Fort Leonard Wood made the most sense for the first visit.
“After we looked and saw it was the home of the MPs, we thought Fort Leonard Wood would be a great backdrop for Chicago, and they agreed,” Johnson said.
Fort Leonard Wood Transition Services Manager Walter Harris said he’s always happy to have more job opportunities to provide to transitioning service members, veterans and family members here.
“Our goal is to provide a bridge to employers for our transitioning service members and their families,” he said. “This endeavor provides even more employment opportunities, while also showing appreciation for the skills, talents and experi ence that is achieved through military service.”