The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that the Chicago Police Department is strongly considering getting rid of their entrance exam because they say it costs them too much to administer. Eliminating the test would save the city millions of dollars during a difficult economic time, and it would also boost minority hiring. As of late 2008 Chicago’s police force was made up of 29% African American and 17% Hispanic officers.
Recently, the city tried to cut costs connected to the entrance exam by switching it to an internet-format, however then there is no way to verify that the person logged-in and answering questions is, in fact, the applicant. Now, media reports suggest they might drop the exam altogether and make the process application-only, which will open up the process to more people.
Critics think the concept of eliminating the written entrance exam is a big mistake, and without the test the city would basically be giving badges and guns to people who have met only very basic physical and mental requirements, without any indication that they are truly fit for duty.
I'm not necessarily a big fan of these types of exams. When I took the Series 7 to be a stock broker, I studied 100 hours or so and never used any of that information ever again. The book, Freedomnomics, has an excellent attack of entrance exams themselves.
That said, this is being done entirely as a cost cutting idea. That's how strapped for cash the City of Chicago is right now. The city can't afford to administer the entrance to cops and is seriously thinking of going without it.