Eighteen-year-olds will be able to take the Chicago Police Department exam under a change designed to increase the pool of eligible applicants and boost diversity, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. In 2010, then-Police Superintendent Jody Weis raised the application age from 21 to 25 to attract a more mature crop of officers. Current Superintendent Garry McCarthy has decided to drop the application age to 18 and set the age to become an officer at 21 — the minimum hiring age in other major cities, like New York and Los Angeles. Applicants can take the police exam in New York at age 17 ½ and at 20 ½ in Los Angeles.
“By offering the exam at 18 and letting them enter at 21, it allows us to reach people as they are making major decisions about their career path,” said Adam Collins, a police spokesman. “It allows us to increase the pool of eligible applicants.” Michael Shields, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, supports the changes. “We believe that the department loses many motivated, qualified candidates who graduate from college at age 21 or 22 and do not want to wait three or four years to start their career,” he said of the age 25 requirement.