Graduation ceremony held at Marquette University for 21 new MCSO deputies

NOW: Graduation ceremony held at Marquette University for 21 new MCSO deputies

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office added 21 new deputies to the job tonight, on July 21, with a graduation ceremony held on the Marquette campus.

The number of graduates is down considerably. This was recruit class 90 with 21 graduates. Last year's had more than double that at around 50.

The problem is nationwide - a shrinking police force - Milwaukee County's budgeted for 283 deputies. Right now they've got 254. That leaves 29 openings. As for their correctional officers, they're budgeted for 251, but currently have only 139.

"If it's something you're really passionate about, take a step," said Josh Sobczak, graduate.

New deputy Josiah Pierce says his interest started at age 12 when he shopped with a cop.

"We went to Walmart and he was helping me pick out stuff for my family and it was just pretty cool," said Pierce. "I remember as a young guy, so he was really tall."

Recent grads are hoping others will sign up too, and decrease the department's deficit.

"No I'm just glad I'm here. Glad I made it," said Marsalas Davis, graduate.

"And they're excited to hit the streets, get to work and we are as well for them," said James Burnett, MCSO director of public affairs.

Twenty one recruits met with a room full of applause, and words of advice from Milwaukee County's chief judge.

"Practice your skills, be safe and stay healthy," said Chief Judge Mary Triggiano.

It's the first in-person graduation for MCSO since COVID started.

"We made a family of the 21 of us here," said Davis.

"At a time like now we really need the infusion of young people into the organization. It's been a very challenging time in terms of recruitment," said Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas.

This is the last time the retiring sheriff Earnell Lucas will preside over graduation ceremonies.

"To be bringing over my final class of young officers,  it's very rewarding and I'm very thankful and grateful to be passing it on to the next generation," said Sheriff Lucas.

The sheriff told new deputies there are people depending on you, I know you can do it, you will do it, and you must do it.

The sheriff's office is still having hiring events. They interview live, and give job offers on the spot. The next one is Wednesday, July 27, at Zoofari Conference Center from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

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