MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is asking the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC) to take back the job offers for more than two dozen candidates for a variety of reasons.
The move is considered typical, but the number of rescinded offers means the police academy class is now below the goal of the FPC.
The Fire and Police Commission planned to start the class with 65 officers. Instead, they began in October with 61. MPD says since then, even more people have left and they are now down to 58.
"They were supposed to start with 65 in the class and they went through their complete contingency list that they had and they couldn't even fill the class,” said Andrew Wagner, president of the Milwaukee Police Association.
The union sees this as a symptom of a bigger problem.
"I think it just shows we have a huge issue with recruitment,” said Wagner.
MPD says over the decades the number of people applying to be a police officer in Milwaukee has gone from thousands of people to hundreds. Currently, the FPC says there are 520 people on the MPD eligibility list.
The Police Executive Research Forum found that departments across the country, on average, were filling 94% of their budgeted positions. However, the survey found the Midwest region struggling the most out of any region in the country to fill positions, only 89% are getting filled.
The executive director of the Fire and Police Commission Leon Todd gave this statement:
"Within the current climate, it is generally more challenging to recruit for many types of positions, including police officers. That being said, we are doing everything thing we can to recruit a diverse, qualified, and substantial applicant pool, and we have been successful doing that."
However, this comes at a time when the Milwaukee Police Department already has vacancies. In September, MPD was budgeted for 1,657 officers but the department was short 63. With only 58 officers in the academy right now, the union worries MPD will continue to have to work short-staffed.
“Every officer we lose is just one more officer we won't have on the street,” said Wagner.
Milwaukee police officers are only recruited during specific time periods. That will begin on Nov. 21. As for why the 26 officers' jobs were rescinded, the FPC says there are a number of factors behind that. The main reasons are the officer withdrew themselves, asked to put their offer on hold, or did not complete their pre-employment testing.