SPRINGFIELD -- Military service could be used as an alternative to a college degree by applicants for local police department positions under a bill approved last week by the Illinois House.
The legislation (SB 1908) now goes back to the Senate for concurrence with amendments. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Josh Harms, R-Watseka, was approved last Friday, 112-1. It is the second piece of legislation sponsored by the freshman lawmaker to clear the House.
As approved by the House, the bill says that a requirement that a police applicant have an associate's degree may be waived if the applicant has served for 24 months of honorable active duty or if the applicant has served 180 active combat duty days, as recognized by the Defense Department, and has not been dishonorably discharged.
Further, the requirement for a bachelor's degree could be waived if an applicant has served for 36 months of honorable active duty or has compiled 180 active combat duty days.
"The way the law works now," Harms explained, "is that the city can put in a requirement that you have to have an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. But you can't use military service. This bill says that if the police department wants to, they may consider military service instead of a degree.
"Here's the example I use: I have a music degree. Would you rather hire me on the police force or hire a Marine? This leaves it up to the city. They can hire who they want. This just gives them more options in hiring."