Who took the Chicago police entrance exam in 2021, as the department – facing a higher than usual attrition rate – looks to both bolster and diversify its ranks in the wake of a watchdog report on its retention of minority candidates throughout the application process?
A report from the Chicago Office of the Inspector General released in July 2021 found that Black candidates comprised 37% of the initial CPD applicant pool, but just 18% of those invited to the academy, while “Asian, Hispanic and white candidates increased their proportion of the applicant pool by the end of the hiring process.”
In evaluating applications submitted from 2016 to 2018, the OIG noted Black male applicants experienced the highest attrition rate during the background investigation stage, while Black female candidates departed at the highest rate during the test for physical fitness.
New figures obtained by NBC 5 Investigates via Freedom of Information Act request reveal the number of applicants who took the written exam in 2021, broken down by race and gender.
Those numbers show that a total of 3,789 people took the exam in the months of June, August, October, November and December.
In June, before the OIG report was released, 272 white applicants took the test, compared to 368 Black candidates. There were more than double those numbers of Hispanic applicants, at 891.
By year’s end, Hispanic applicants were the highest proportion of candidates to take the exam at 1,832, or 48.4%. Black applicants were the second largest group at 1,033, or 27.3%. There were a total of 639 white applicants who took the test, or 16.9%. Asian applicants totaled 120, or 3.2%, while 80 candidates did not provide their race and 70 marked two or more races (both roughly 2% of the total). Nine Native Americans or Native Alaskans took the exam, as did six Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders (about .2% each).
Of the 3,789 total applicants who took the written exam last year, the data shows that 2,564 (67.6%) were male and 1,198 (31.6%) were female, while 27 individuals did not provide their gender. The OIG’s report found that in the period studied, women made up 34% of applications but fell through the process to ultimately comprise just 27% of academy recruits.
The latest figures come as CPD engages in a push to increase its overall staffing, facing a higher than usual attrition rate this year.
“We normally have an attrition rate of about 5% to 6%. We have currently like an 8% attrition rate,” Brown said when asked about recruitment at an unrelated news conference on Jan. 21, adding that the uptick is “high given the level of staffing.”
“We have a sense of urgency to hire those vacancies,” Brown continued. “We do have a dedicated recruiting team to fill our vacancies. They are recruiting every day, they’re going to military bases, job fairs, to community colleges. We’re giving more in-person tests, we’re giving, for the first time, online tests for everyone, available every day and that’s how serious we are about recruiting to fill our vacancies.”
As for the figures so far this year, Brown said last week that the department received applications from 750 individuals in January.
In a statement Friday, CPD said it’s “continuing to ramp up its hiring efforts as law enforcement across the nation see an increase in retirements,” noting that it created the dedicated unit that is “working to hire applicants to reflect the diversity of this city.”