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Milwaukee Police Department gets federal grant to fund hiring 50 officers to fill vacancies

Mayor Cavalier Johnson
Teran Powell
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson signs a Common Council resolution authorizing the addition of 50 officers, thanks to a federal COPS grant. Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, Aldermen Michael Murphy and Scott Spiker joined him.

The Milwaukee Police Department is getting close to $16 million from the federal government to fund hiring 50 police officers for a three-year period. It comes at a time when the city is struggling financially to maintain staff, leading to slight cuts to the police force.

The funding comes from the U.S Department of Justice’s COPS Hiring Program Grant. The program provides funding directly to law enforcement agencies to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson held a press conference at Milwaukee's City Hall Wednesday, where he signed a Common Council resolution authorizing the additional officers.

"The funding of about $16 million will pay for these 50 officers for three years and there’s no local match required for this funding. I wish these were added resources, but these new police officers will be filling vacancies that have been created by retirements and other departures of exiting officers," he said.

The overall number of officers will still shrink by 1%, or 17 officers, as proposed in Johnson’s 2023 city budget.

Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman was also at the press conference and said the department is short over 200 officers. But that number is fluid, he said, because of officers are retiring or resigning.

"This particular support will help us continue to have that necessary resource as we deal with the attrition, we deal with the resignations, we have our challenges. But at the end of the day, we still need sworn officers to complete work for sworn particular responsibilities," Norman said.

The federal COPS grant period ends in September 2027.

Regarding ongoing recruitment, the Milwaukee Police Department has signed on to the 30x30 Pledge, aiming to reach 30% of women in recruit classes by 2030. And Norman said the department continues to collaborate with the Fire & Police Commission and community stakeholders to find diverse talent.

Teran is WUWM's race & ethnicity reporter.
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