CITY HALL — A City Council committee moved Friday to remove a $30 fee to take the Police Department entrance exam and extended the same benefit to wannabe firefighter recruits.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) said Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal would ultimately bring "greater diversity" and "greater breadth" to the city's Police and Fire departments.
Soo Choi, commissioner of the Department of Human Resources, testified that initially 19,671 people signed up online to take the most recent Police Department entry exam in April, but that 5,437 hadn't followed through by making the $30 payment to take the test.
Choi called that a "significant drop-off" in the pool of applicants, "especially with the Latino and black communities."
"It definitely had a drop-off effect with the applications online," agreed Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th), chairman of the Workforce Development Committee considering the measure.
"It seems a fee is unnecessary," Choi said. "It really didn't serve any purpose."
She pointed out that if 10,000 people took the tests for free, that would deprive the city of $300,000, with a minimal effect on the city budget.
"I think this is good," said Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the Public Safety Committee overseeing the Police and Fire departments. "It will make a difference in many cases."
Emanuel submitted his proposed ordinance at last month's City Council meeting, and Lopez moved Friday to extend the same free entry exam to firefighter recruits. It passed the committee unanimously and heads for the full Council for final approval later this month.
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