Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened the door to allowing candidates with minor drug and criminal offenses to become police officers to attract minorities at a time of high crime and deep distrust, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Emanuel said he’s leaning toward relaxing the hiring rules at the behest of three powerful aldermen. “I want to take a look at the general idea that, if somebody did something when they were 16 or 17, that doesn’t become an entire impossibility, as long as it’s not serious, to joining a police department,” the mayor said.
Emanuel said his feelings on the issue were reinforced earlier this week when he looked out at the latest class of 100 recruits to enter the police academy. “Looking at all that diversity — from gender to race to culture to faiths — and saying, ‘That’s the strength of the city,’” the mayor said. “I see all that promise, all this diversity. Then, I realize that there’s other kids who could be sitting in that chair if it wasn’t just for … one little thing. I say little because it’s got to be small, in my view. [That should not prohibit them from becoming] a public servant and fulfilling their aspirations of being a police officer. It’s not just punching a clock. It’s more than that. And I think we should be generous in that effort. That’s where I’m starting from.” The mayor noted that young people make mistakes. That should not be a permanent impediment to future employment.