The Chicago Police Academy welcomed 43 new recruits today for five months of training to become a Chicago officer, Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy announced.

"The journey to get here was demanding and their transformation into law enforcement professionals will present them with challenges unlike any others they have faced in their lives," Superintendent McCarthy said in a statement. "Their careers as police officers will reward them beyond their greatest expectations."

Before entering the Police Academy, candidates were required to take a written examination, undergo a background investigation, medical examination, psychological assessment, several drug screenings, fitness tests, and other pre-employment procedures to determine their eligibility.  Once candidates enter the Police Academy, they become recruits.

The recruits must complete about 1,000 hours of training at the academy, even though Illinois only requires 400 hours of training for sworn officers. The police academy's training program emphasizes procedural justice law, traffic law, tactical communication, emergency driving, firearms handling, and scenario-based training.

Recruits reinforce their skills with scenario-based training that reflects real-world experiences police officers face in the field. These exercises highlight the necessity for critical thinking in environments that require dynamic decision-making, according to the department.

"It is important that critical thinking skills be stressed," said Howard Lodding, deputy chief of the education and training division. "While in service to the community, some decisions may lead to ponderous outcomes."

Recruits begin every morning with a tradition that honors the fallen. The American flag is raised and the name of a fallen officer is read aloud.

While at the academy, the recruits must take more than 20 examinations, including 16 written exams and seven proficiency tests. The recruit training culminates with a state exam that recruits must pass to become police officers. After completing the academy requirements, the recruits become probationary police officers.

Upon the successful completion of the Field Training Program, and 18 months in the field, probationary officers become full-fledged officers.

The previous class of 46 police officers graduated in April of this year. Both classes took the Police Officer Exam administered in December 2010.