The latest number of applicants to be Milwaukee Police officers is at a four year low. The number has gone down almost 20 percent with each recruitment since 2015 when the number of applicants was about 3,400. Now it's 2.118.
This past recruitment was the first round since the death of three Milwaukee police officers in less than a year which caused the climate of Milwaukee policing to change.
Nicole Waldner is the captain of Milwaukee’s Police Academy. She deals with the changing climate on a daily basis.
“In the past when recruitment was hard it was because those national-known cases, police caught on tape, that type of publicity to now, the officers that have been hurt and killed on duty, so it’s a different negative outlook for officers and recruitment,” said Waldner.
After each incident of officers being killed on duty, Waldner spoke with recruits to ensure it was still the field in which they wanted to be employed.
She encouraged recruits to speak to their families as well.
Roberto Sanchez applied to be an officer before the three officers were killed on duty but began the academy in December.
The father of three says his mother was concerned as his children as so young, but he wanted to be a police officer to help others in his community.
The change in policing and recruitment also comes with a change in the type of service away from the traditional military style of policing to a more community-based service.
“We are here to provide this service to the community and this is the ultimate customer service,” said Waldner.
It’s that customer service that got Rachel Brumage into the academy.
“I was in the foster care system and I had a really good contact with an officer who removed me and I looked up to him for a long time,” said Brumage.
Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission says another reason for the drop in applicants is the way the recruitment is done. FPC says they have done a better job making people aware of the requirements to apply, meaning they have less rejected applications. FPC also says it’s about the quality of recruits and not the quantity.