Milwaukee Police Association says officer shortage has reached 'critical level'

NOW: Milwaukee Police Association says officer shortage has reached ’critical level’

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee police union says their shortage of officers has reached "critical levels."

In a press release, the Milwaukee Police Association used an incident from last week as an example. 

Two detectives spotted a robbery suspect and called for backup, only to be told that there were no other officers available. 

Still, the officers confronted the suspect, who resisted and bit the detectives several times. 

MPA President Andrew Wagner said this incident could have been avoided with proper staffing.

"If the police cannot protect ourselves, how are we to protect the community from these dangerous criminals?" said Wagner.

July personnel numbers show about 150 officer vacancies. Wagner wants those positions filled, and more.

"What we've been seeing and what we've been hearing from officers is that this is happening more and more frequently. That they're going from assignment to assignment to assignment. That there is no down time," said Wagner.

The union is asking the public to demand that city leaders make no more cuts in public safety funding and instead, reinvest in the police.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said he's on the same page, but financially, his hands are tied.

"It's not a matter of whether or not I want it to happen, it's a matter of resources to make it happen," Johnson said. "The city of Milwaukee is limited in its ability to raise revenue, right. We are completely dependent on what the state allows us to use."

While Johnson said he's trying to build a partnership with lawmakers at the state level, he needs other people to express these concerns, too.

The Milwaukee Police Department was not available for an interview, but told CBS 58 in a statement that the department remains committed to protecting the public with the resources they're afforded.

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