Elgin police look to ease educational requirements to sit for exam
Saying they need to "stay competitive," Elgin Police Chief Ana Lalley laid out a plan Wednesday to make it easier for applicants to sit for her department's entry level police officer examination.
Lalley told Elgin City Council members during Wednesday's committee of the whole meeting that police officials had been looking to "liberalize" their hiring requirements for a couple of years. The standards now require applicants to have a bachelor's degree or 60 college credit hours in addition other qualifications. She said most police departments in Kane County require only a high school diploma.
The proposed amendments to the city's hiring ordinance would allow for applicants to have a high school diploma or GED to sit for the entry level exam, and preference points will be given for several categories of qualifications, including being a certified law enforcement officer, having advanced education, work or military experience, being a current employee or an Elgin Police Explorer.
"We want to continue to build an organization that looks like our community, and being mindful that we want competent, capable, empathetic smart people who think differently," Lalley said. "Having the restriction of either having a bachelor's degree or an associates and something else does hinder us from opening up the pool of candidates that we hope will be more diverse."
Lalley said the police force is currently made up of 160 men and 27 women. About 71% of the department is white, with almost 6% African American and just over 16% Hispanic and Latino.
The board of fire and police commissioners modified hiring requirements in 2002, requiring a bachelor's degree for all new police officers hired in an effort to increase the quality of candidates, with an emphasis on improving the writing skills of officers. The bachelor's degree requirement has been in place for all testing processes since the change except for the 2010 and 2013 tests.
"We're going to continue to get the best people here, but we do realize we need to stay competitive," Lalley said.