As the vaccine mandate showdown between the city of Chicago and Fraternal Order of Police plays out in court, police department leaders are continuing efforts to recruit new officers.
This weekend, the Chicago Police Department is hosting in-person police officer entry exams across several locations, with sessions available both Friday and Saturday.
Even as the debate shows no signs of ending soon, multiple applicants told NBC 5 they're not bothered by the controversy.
"It doesn’t matter," said applicant Steven Reyes. "If its something you want to do and its your dream…why would you not want to do it because of what’s going on?"
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown reported earlier this week that 21 officers had been placed on no-pay status as a result of failure to put their information into the city’s vaccination portal. He emphasized, however, that there have been no staffing shortages that have resulted in those officers being temporarily removed from the force.
As entry exams took place at Harold Washington College Friday, another applicant told NBC 5 he still wants to become a police officer despite today's political climate.
"I just want to make change in today’s world, and I feel there is a lot of negativity towards police officers, and I want to make a change," Danny Lopez said.
Questions remain about the department's hiring process, with some raised as recently as this past summer.
A report by the Office of the Inspector General found that white applicants fare better than African Americans. According to the report, 37 percent of the initial applicant pool in recent testing was black, but African Americans comprised only 18 percent of the pool invited to the police academy.