CHICAGO (CBS) — Some Chicago aldermen have suggested allowing people with minor criminal convictions to become police officers, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel sounded open to the idea.
The non-binding resolution – introduced by Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Ed Burke (14th), Black Caucus Chair Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), and Latino Caucus Chair George Cardenas (12th) – urges the Chicago Police Department to not let minor drug or criminal infraction prevent someone from becoming a police recruit.
“A minor, non-violent infraction of the law or youthful indiscretion should not become a permanent barrier to a life of public service,” the resolution said.
The aldermen said the aim is to promote more diversity on the police force.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who spoke to a class of police recruits earlier this week, seemed agreeable to the suggestion.
“I see all that promise, and they have all this diversity, and I think that’s a strength for the city, and then I look and realize that there’s other kids that could be sitting in that chair if it wasn’t just for what happened, one little thing – I say little, because it’s got to be small, in my view – that would, in that take, not allow them to become a public servant,” he said.
The mayor has pledged to hire nearly 1,000 additional police officers over the next two years. The Police Department has begun accepting applications for the entrance exam. Applications are due by Jan. 31, and the exam will be held in April at McCormick Place.
“I want to take a look at the general idea that, if somebody did something when they were 16 or 17, that it doesn’t become an entire impossibility – as long as it’s not serious – to joining a police department,” Emanuel said.
Sawyer said he’s heard from someone who admitted trying marijuana as a teenager and was denied a place in a police recruit class.