Leaders in Mount Prospect, Illinois have postponed a proposal to recruit legal resident noncitizens as candidates to be police officers. Under the proposal, because immigrants with green cards are allowed to live and work legally in the U.S., they would be allowed to apply for police officer jobs.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Mount Prospect Police Chief Timothy Janowick stated that the idea came as the village experienced growth in Latino, Polish, and Indian immigrants. Janowick said the department also considered the proposal because applications for police jobs are currently down. Additionally, prior to 1991, noncitizens could apply for these jobs.
“It was very evident that a lot of folks do not understand that this really isn’t anything new, and many other towns have never enacted an ordinance restricting applicants to be U.S. citizens,” Janowick said.
The proposal was put on hold as resistance came from some residents of the village. A passionate group of locals attended a recent village board meeting to speak out against the plan. The group believes that the plan will take jobs away from U.S. citizens.
“As a citizen and resident,” one unhappy resident said, “I’m appalled. When I found out about this ordinance…I became hysterical. I can’t imagine, and get freaked out thinking that I might be walking down the street and possibly have a noncitizen with a gun arresting me.”
32% of Mount Prospect residents are from outside the U.S., and more than 42% of residents speak a primary language other than English. Janowick feels that the police department needs to be as diverse as possible to help deal with cultural misunderstandings in the community.
“This proposed change is about language, it’s about culture, and it’s about officer safety. It’s about getting to the best truth in a criminal case without culture obstructing it, and building a stronger engagement with a segment of the population we’re not as fully engaged with,” Janowick said.
Even though the proposal is now on hold, Janowick said that the department will continue to work on making its recruitment practices consistent with the changing demographics of the village.