Milwaukee Co. Sheriff's Office combats jail staffing shortage with job fair on Friday

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A severe staffing shortage is striking the Milwaukee County Jail, but the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) thinks they found a quick fix.

People can be hired as a correctional officer in a matter of hours at a job fair on Friday, June 17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Zoofari Conference Center in Wauwatosa.

"You can get an on-the-spot job offer tomorrow afternoon," Milwaukee County Jail Commander Aaron Dobson said. "A much quicker process for everyone involved."

MCSO will conduct on-site applications, interviews and background investigations. Out of 125 applicants, 61 received conditional job offers at a hiring event earlier in June. 

The jail is budgeted for 251 officer positions, but only about 130 are currently filled, according to Dobson.

"Nothing happens as fast as it used to," Dobson said.

Dobson told CBS 58 that operating on only about half of its typical workforce is resulting in delays of getting occupants to court and accepting new intakes from the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) and other agencies. 

"We are understaffed. So, some people are working double shifts, seven, eight, ten days in a row," Dobson said.

Historically, Dobson said there's always been a retention problem at the jail, but he's never struggled this hard to hire replacements.

"We just aren't seeing the candidates we've seen in the past, just not in quantity or quality," Dobson said.

He said he's going up against a competitive job market and other agencies who pay more.

The starting salary in Milwaukee County ranges between $21.01 and $24.01. Correctional officers who comply with the vaccine mandate are eligible for an additional $3 per hour.

Dobson said MCSO is fighting to get pay raises for its employees.

The requirements include being 19-years-old or older with a high school diploma.

MCSO is looking for candidates with a variety of skills, including the ability to learn.

"They don't have to have those skills walking in the front door. We will teach them. We just need people to come to work every day," Dobson said.

New hires will begin as a correctional officer, but Dobson said there is room for growth to other areas of the jail or Sheriff's Office, including the K-9 team, correctional emergency response team, and sworn side of the agency.

The Zoofari Conference Center is located at 9715 W. Bluemound Rd.

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