Milwaukee could fill its police needs and save millions of dollars by hiring more civilian police staffers and fewer sworn officers, says a study of patrol staffing obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The city-commissioned report could help build support for using civilians to book prisoners. It also could sharpen debate between aldermen who want to hire more officers and others who argue that civilians could handle duties including responding to non-emergency calls.
Officials will release the report from the California-based Matrix Consulting Group next week. consultants said current police staffing of 920 should be incresed to 1,017. Outgoing Police Chief Nannette Hegerty and the Milwaukee Police Association have argued the department must fill vacant officer jobs to boost police presence on the streets while reducing overtime costs that annually run millions of dollars over budget. Instead of hiring nearly 100 new officers, the study says, the city could hire more civilians for less-critical jobs now being handled by sworn officers, who then could be on the streets. Each civilian would cost under $58,000 a year, compared with nearly $72,000 a year for each police officer.