Officers from the Chicago Police Department ( CPD ) will, on January 14 from 6-7 p.m., be available at a booth at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., as part of an outreach to recruit members from the city's LGBT community.
"They're making an overall citywide push to reach as many communities as possible," said Jose Rios, CPD's LGBT liaison. "There will be people on hand who know what it's like to be out and and a member of the police force."
Information will be available about taking the police test, which will be held this year in early April. The registration application deadline for the test is January 31; the application form is available online at chicagopolice.org .
CPD does not keep any statistics on the number of LGBT officers on the force for legal reasons, according to CPD Director of Human Resources Donald O'Neill. "We don't have a goal number right now," he added. "The standard is, where will the force be 10 years from now? How well will we be representing the community?"
The initiative comes as part of a larger push to recruit members from all minority communities, he added.
"It's important for good community and police relations to see every community represented on the police force," said Ald. Tom Tunny ( 44th ). "To have that protocol in place, where officers come in as a peer of the community, is imperative."
Tunney noted the trust deficit between CPD and the community that has only been heightened since the release of the Laquan McDonald video in November.
"The more we can do to re-establish that trust, the better," he said. "It's markedly better with the inclusion of out and open members of the police department."
O'Neill encouraged all who were interested to consider filling out the application. "You don't have to be a citizen, and you can try even if you have been arrested," he noted. "All that we ask is that you be forthright about it."
Rios admitted that, as the LGBT liaison, his perception of how welcoming the force is "a bit biasedIt's always been very welcoming to me. I can't say that's how things have happened for for everyone, but we learn as we go along. There should be no fear for a gay person going onto the force."