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When the Gay Games opens in Chicago next summer, the Los Angeles Police Department will be in town looking for a few good recruits. The department's aggressive strategy to fill 400 newly created jobs will include offering a written test that applicants can take while at the Games, officials said. "Our overall crime rate is down, but we have areas of the city [where] it is not down enough," said Bruce Whidden, a spokesman for the city of Los Angeles personnel department, which is handling LAPD hiring. "In order to take care of some hot spots, we need to grow the department."
The LAPD is a cosponsor of Gay Games VII, scheduled for next July in Chicago. Organizers say the weeklong Olympics-style event could draw 12,000 participants from 70 countries and more than 50,000 spectators. Los Angeles police officers will march in uniform during opening ceremonies at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, along with Games participants from Los Angeles.
"It demonstrates the commitment of the L.A. Police Department to diversity," said Kevin Boyer, an official with Chicago Games, Inc., the local not-for-profit group putting on the events. "We're very happy they are using the Gay Games to do that. It sends a strong message to other departments and the world." The promise of warm weather and a starting salary of $52,000 to $55,000 will be a draw for recruits, Whidden said.
Officials with the Chicago Police Department said they don't mind having their West Coast colleagues look for recruits in their city, even though the department is in the middle of its own personnel drive.
As many as 3,000 candidates have signed up to take the CPD entrance exam for about 550 positions, so finding enough applicants will not be a problem, said department spokeswoman Monique Bond. Chicago police do not plan to recruit during the Gay Games, she said.
The city of Chicago isn't a financial sponsor of the Games, but it is a strategic partner, which means it is working with organizers to line up facilities and other resources.
The Games, which first began in 1982 in San Francisco, are held every four years and are open to participants, gay and straight alike, regardless of physical ability. The 30 sports--from figure skating and swimming to flag football and bodybuilding--include divisions from recreational to elite. (AP)