MILWAUKEE — Industries across the board are dealing with staffing issues, including the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), who now have a unique approach to hiring correctional officers.
Wednesday will be the first of two hiring events that will take place at the Zoofari Conference Center located at 9715 W Bluemound Rd. in Wauwatosa from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Milwaukee County Jail has the capacity to hold 960 inmates, and while the space is there, correctional officers are desperately needed.
"Right now, we're at a little bit more need than we are used to," said Lt. Noel Ybarra.
Ybarra said staffing shortages are due to many reasons.
"Just with COVID and as well as people getting promoted and leaving to other jurisdictions in other careers in law enforcement," Ybarra stated.
The latest data available from the Department of Justice shows there are currently 13,443 law enforcement officers in Wisconsin, which is 2,500 fewer than a decade ago.
The Sheriff's Office general operating budget includes funding that allows for 251 officers. Right now, there are 133 officers working in the jail with 20 deputies temporarily assigned to the jail to assist.
With hopes of solving this problem, Deputy Kristine Rodriguez said they're taking a new approach with Wednesday's hiring event.
"We're going to be interviewing people on the spot. We're going to be doing background checks in-person and potentially that candidate can be walking out with an offer," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said this approach would speed up the process and elevate some of the burden on current officers.
"We can kind of shorten that process and get as many qualified candidates as we can," she said.
So, who is a qualified candidate? Anyone 18-years and older with a GED or high school diploma.
"We really need people who are willing to help be a part of the team so we can be part of the solution that Milwaukee County needs," Rodriguez said.
An added caveat is potential candidates can expect a $3 increase if they're vaccinated, bumping up the pay to $24.