Milwaukee seeks 195 new police officers, increases salary for 911 operators

NOW: Milwaukee seeks 195 new police officers, increases salary for 911 operators

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- If you're considering becoming a police officer, Milwaukee is looking for you. The city is looking for 195 new officers this year and also actively looking to fill a dire shortage of 911 operators.

Milwaukee's top cop says signing onto the police force isn't a job or career, it's a "calling."

"If this type of work speaks to you, this is the type of work that you feel you can commit yourself to the residents, the city of Milwaukee, we need you," Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said during a news conference on Wednesday, March 2.

The city is seeking to have three new police classes in April, July and November of this year. The goal is to have 65 new officers in each class for a total of 195 new officers.

The city is hosting a job fair on Saturday, March 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Milwaukee Police and Fire Academy at 6680 N. Teutonia Avenue.

"I want our police department to reflect the diversity of our city," Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson said.

Johnson wants officers from every corner of Milwaukee. But in a year where multiple officers have already been shot on the job, city leaders acknowledge personal safety could be a challenge in bringing in new recruits.

"To talk about danger -- that's not nothing new. In fact, that is part of the understanding why we don this uniform, why we don the badge," Norman said.

Norman said he feels Milwaukee police are competitive with pay and benefits compared to the suburbs also looking for officers.

The city is also looking to hire 911 operators. Johnson signed legislation Wednesday to increase the salary to $55,000 annually.

"Every 911 call -- it starts with that phone call. Having people who are there who are supported, who are not overworked to take the call, so... this pay increase is definitely going to be a great benefit for our staff," said Dr. Jeffrey Madison, information technology manager at the Milwaukee Fire Department.

Madison said the Milwaukee Fire Department wants 24 dispatchers total, and only has about half of that.

"(The shortage) is pretty bad, but we have a great staff and they manage it," Madison said.

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