Staffing shortages in law enforcement

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 6:09 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - This week is National Police Week, a time to honor fallen members of law enforcement. It also serves as a reminder of the dangers of jobs in law enforcement, an industry facing a shortage of applicants.

“The police department is constantly looking for people,” Josh Miller, a public information officer in the Eau Claire Police Department said. “It’s not the same as it used to be, we don’t have as many applicants.”

Like many professions, law enforcement is facing challenges filling job openings and Miller said there are a few reasons why.

“This job is under a lot of scrutiny, there’s no question about it and that does keep a lot of people away,” Miller said.

The job is also dangerous. Three members of law enforcement in Western Wisconsin died in 2023 so far.

“I think the events that we’ve seen over the past month, unfortunately, do give people second thoughts about this job,” Miller said. “But if you have that calling, if you truly want to be a police officer and serve your community, I don’t think that goes away.”

Despite having fewer applicants, Miller said there are still promising people looking to join the field.

“While the number of applicants has gotten smaller, we’re still seeing the same number of really quality people that we want to hire in all our applications processes,” Miller said.

Kyle Roder, a criminal justice instructor at the Chippewa Valley Technical College shared similar thoughts.

“The numbers aren’t something we’re as concerned about. We’re concerned bout quality over quantity and we want the best students that we can kind of mold and send out to their communities, wherever that is,” Roder said.

Roder said those with the drive to enter law enforcement continue to do so.

“One thing certainly has not changed with our students. It’s their commitment to the community. Without fail, the number one reason people want to get into law enforcement is to help people,” Roder said. “People don’t do this job for the money. They don’t do it certainly for the hours. They do it because it’s a commitment well beyond themselves.”

Roder said the CVTC Law Enforcement Academy runs three times a year and all of the spots in the academy are usually filled.

Miller said ECPD does have openings and completes three hiring processes a year. The next hiring process starts in July.