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GOP leaders introduce Law Enforcement Support Package to combat low retainment numbers

For the past few years, Wisconsin has struggled to fill and keep law enforcement jobs, leading them to have the least amount of officers they’ve had in over 10 years
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 5:18 PM CST
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KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WBAY) - Local legislators are on a mission to retain and recruit more officers in Wisconsin. Republicans unveiled a package of proposals in Kaukauna Tuesday afternoon.

For the past few years, Wisconsin has struggled to fill and keep law enforcement jobs, leading them to have the least amount of officers they’ve had in over 10 years. Today only 13,576 officers work in Wisconsin.

“Only 766 people entered the profession in the last year. That’s the fewest number of law enforcement officers in at least the last 10 years,” Jim Steineke, a Republican representative for Kaukauna, said.

Chief Tim Styka with the Menasha Police Department said the lack of staff is in part due to a lack of support from the community.

“When I was chosen over 35 years ago, I was chosen out of over 150 applicants. The city of Menasha has now grown 20%, and I actually have fewer officers on the road today than when I started,” Styka said.

While the number of new officers is falling, statistics indicate a rise in crime. Wisconsin saw a 9% increase in crime, compared to a national average of 5.2%.

“Simply stated, communities thought Wisconsin may experience a higher risk of crime and disorder if nothing is done to address this,” Chief Todd Thomas with the Appleton Police Department said.

The legislation introduced Tuesday aims to recruit, retain and support officers in Wisconsin. One proposal would provide a $5,000 signing bonus for a new officer -- more if the officer has the experience and is relocating from far away. Another bill would reimburse law enforcement academies for all officers.

While the proposals can pass the GOP-controlled Legislature, the governor needs to sign them into law.

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