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Tuesday, December 14, 2010—A one-time member of the U.S. Olympic team, a former collegiate all-American athlete and three U.S. military veterans are among those set to graduate from the Cook County Sheriff’s Training Academy today, as they embark upon careers with the Cook County Department of Corrections, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Tuesday.

The group of 29 cadets will take part in a graduation ceremony set for 2 p.m. today at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Heights. Events will take place in Building M, just off the 111th Street entrance to the campus. These cadets are the sixth class to graduate this year, bringing a total of 194 new correctional officers to the Cook County Jail, with 77 more now in training and who will be part of the first cadet classes to graduate in 2011.

This cadet class includes Montell Griffin, of Chicago, who was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team which competed in Barcelona. As a light heavyweight boxer, he fought in three Olympic bouts, going 2-1. He then had a successful professional career that included victories over Roy Jones Jr. for the WBC title, as well as two wins over James Toney. Also graduating today is Steve Krause, who is both the oldest and most physically fit member of his cadet class. Now in his 40s, Krause has spent the last 20 years coaching wrestling at Bremen, Sandburg and Mt. Carmel high schools. He was an all-American wrestler at Bremen High School and at Northern Oklahoma College.

Shortly after taking office in 2006, Sheriff Dart introduced new hiring requirements for correctional officers – mandating that they pass both physical fitness and psychological tests, along with thorough background checks. In the last year alone, the Sheriff’s Office has received more than 15,000 applications for about 500 open correctional officer positions at the long-understaffed Cook County Jail. With only about half of those positions filled by qualified candidates, another 250 vacant positions are set to be filled in 2011.

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