Chicago will hold its first police entrance exam in four years to ease a severe manpower shortage — amid demands that applicants no longer be required to complete at least two years of college, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Alderman Anthony Beale, chairman of the City Council’s Police Committee, wants to “level the playing field” for minorities to increase diversity in the ranks at a time when a two-year hiring slowdown has left the police department more than 2,300 officers-a-day short of authorized strength.
“A lot of minorities can’t afford to go to college. A lot of minorities go into the trades or into the military. Why should they be excluded?” Beale said. “We need to level the playing field by doing away with the college part and coming up with a new formula. If a person is 24 or 25, they’re at a maturity level where they can make solid decisions. Why not take that in place of college? The goal is get more minorities and streamline the process.” The college requirement was imposed in 1997 in response to a corruption scandal that saw seven tactical officers charged with extorting nearly $66,000 from undercover agents they thought were drug dealers. Former Police Superintendent Terry Hillard flirted with the idea of boosting the requirement to four years of college, but backed off after encountering resistance from African-American aldermen.