How to Become a Police Officer in Milwaukee
Situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin has about 600,000 residents and has a cost of living 10% below the national average.1 However, the city also has a crime rate above the averages for similarly-sized cities, with 656 violent crimes and 2,717 property crimes per 100,00 residents.2 To combat crime, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) employs approximately 1,900 sworn officers devoted to serving and protecting the residents of the city.3 The process for joining the Milwaukee Police Department as a cop is detailed below.
Milwaukee Police Officer Requirements
The MPD holds open application periods periodically throughout the year for potential new recruits. Applications are only accepted during open recruitment periods. To qualify for the hiring process, candidates must:
- Be a US citizen
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Hold a high school diploma or GED
- Possess a valid Wisconsin driver’s license
- Have at least 60 semester hours of college credit, or earn 60 semester hours of college credit within five years of hire
- Live within 15 miles of the boundaries of the city of Milwaukee within six months of the date of hire
- Not have any felony convictions, misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, or other disqualifying criminal history
- Not have been dishonorably discharged from the military
While not required at the time of hire, the City of Milwaukee gives preference points in the selection process to military veterans, city residents, and college graduates. The selection process for qualified applicants to the MPD begins with a written test and an oral interview. Candidates must also be physically fit enough to perform the duties of a law enforcement officer; as a result, a physical fitness test is the next stage in the hiring process. Those who pass the first two stages are placed on an eligibility list for consideration. Those from the list who are offered employment must first pass medical and psychological examinations, including a drug test, before being invited to attend the 27-week police academy.
For more information about how to become a cop in a typical big city, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our home page. If you are ready to apply, find specific application information on the Milwaukee Department of Employee Relations website.
Milwaukee Police Academy
The Milwaukee Police Academy is located within the city and hosts a 27-week training course for new recruits to the MPD. Here the recruits learn all the basics needed to work as full-time sworn officers. After completing the course successfully, new officers must then work with veteran officers during on-the-job field training. All new recruits are paid during their time in the academy and throughout field training. After graduating from the academy, newly-sworn officers must complete a 16-month probationary period.
Milwaukee Metro Police Department Information
The Milwaukee Police Department is divided into seven patrol districts to better serve the neighborhoods of Milwaukee. All new recruits with the MPD are assigned to patrol during either the late shift (midnight to 8 AM) or the early shift (4 PM to midnight); day shifts are awarded based on seniority. Special units within the MPD include the Financial Crimes Unit, the Cold Case Division, Community Outreach and Development, the Sensitive Crime Division, and the Homicide Review Commission, among several others. New officers must typically gain experience in patrol before being considered for specialized assignments.
The MPD Office of Community Outreach and Education offers opportunities for both adults and young members of the community. The Citizens Academy gives residents a working knowledge of the MPD through a five-week course, while the Students Talking it Over with Police (STOP) Program helps officers connect with youth leaders in the community. The MPD has won numerous awards in recent years highlighting its community outreach efforts, including the MetLife Foundation Excellence in Civic Engagement and Excellence in Neighborhood Revitalization and Youth Safety awards and the Webber Seavey Award for quality in law enforcement.4
Department Contact Information
Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook
New recruits to the MPD earn an annualized starting salary of $42,968 during basic training, which increases to a starting salary of $57,291 per year as a newly-sworn officer following academy graduation.4 The MPD offers two weeks of paid vacation after one year of full-time service, plus 15 paid sick days per year, plus 12 additional days off in lieu of holidays. Officers receive health, life, and dental insurance and are eligible for other benefits including tuition reimbursement. MPD officers are eligible to retire with the city’s fully-funded pension plan after 25 years of service.4 The average annual salary for police officers in the Milwaukee area is $69,590.5
Long-term projections are also promising for hopeful new law enforcement officers in Wisconsin. The state is expected to see growth in the number of law enforcement positions of 5.8% through 2026, which equates to 70 new jobs opening up every year in addition to replacement openings.6 For more information on current MPD law enforcement positions, take a look at our jobs board page.
- Milwaukee Police Association – The Milwaukee Police Association is the representative union for City of Milwaukee police officers, offering advocacy and social events to current and retired law enforcement officers.
- Wisconsin State Fraternal Order of Police – The Wisconsin State Fraternal Order of Police advocates for improving the working conditions and benefits for police officers statewide through legislation, education, and community involvement.
1. Sperling’s Best Places, Milwaukee, WI: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/wisconsin/milwaukee
2. US News Best Places to Live, Milwaukee, WI: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/wisconsin/milwaukee/crime
3. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by State by City, 2015: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/table-78/table_78_full_time_law_enforcement_employees_by_state_by_cities_2015.xls/view
4. Milwaukee Police Department: https://city.milwaukee.gov/police
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_33340.htm#33-0000
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm