How the national police officer shortage is impacting Wisconsin

A police car.
A police car.(AP GraphicsBank)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:48 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Law enforcement agencies across the country are having a hard time recruiting new officers and the trend has only intensified during the pandemic.

Some of those national trends are hitting close to home. Many Wisconsin police departments are seeing officer shortages or expect to in the near future.

This resulting in ramped up recruitment efforts across the board. In Monona, application numbers are lower than they have been in the past. The department says they are now paying to send new hires to the police academy, which has created a larger candidate pool. Recently 24 applicants applied and about half were non-pre-certified, according to Brian Chaney Austin, Monona Chief of Police.

The Beloit Police Department is also recruiting new officers. Daniel Molland, Beloit Police Captain of Special Operations says by the end of August, the force will be down 8 officers.

Molland says the pandemic, police reform, and upcoming retirements are some of the reasons for shortages.

“We know we’re going to have about probably 13 more people eligible to retire out of our 75 sworn in the next few years so planning for that is huge,” said Molland.

Despite the national trends, some area departments are seeing success in recruitment.

In Janesville, 9 new officers joined the force at the end of July. Chief David Moore says the new recruits were the result of two large recruiting efforts. “We went to colleges and schools throughout Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. It’s not like years ago where you would have 300-400 people apply. Now we have 40 or so show up for the written test,” said Chief Moore.

It’s a similar situation at the Madison Police Department. “We absolutely need more officers. At least for us, our applications are up from last year,” said Sgt. Theresa Magyera.

While the pandemic presented some challenges with recruitment, Sgt. Magyera says she’s seeing more people who want to be part of positive change.

“For this generation, it’s more cause related. They want to be apart of something bigger than themselves,” she said.

Anyone interested in becoming a recruit in any of these departments is encouraged to reach out for more information.

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