The Wausau Police Department is in the process of hiring new officers for their department. This is the first recruitment following a year when many communities examined their relationship with the police.
When it comes to recruiting, Wausau Police Department says they feel like they’re on a good path. They know what a good fit looks like, they say. But they believe they have a lot of work to do to make the department as diverse as it can be.
“We want them to have the right character we’re looking for, coupled with some good background,” said Captain Todd Baeten, explaining that character is weighed above anything else.
Baeten says the department looks for people with diversity of thought and upbringing. But he says it’s been difficult getting minority candidates to apply.
The department believes diversity of all types is an advantage.
“I think that diversity helps us to be much more effective problem-solvers in our community,” he said.
Recruitment this year looks much different than it did several decades ago. He says hundreds of candidates used to have to distinguish themselves for one or two spots.
“We’ve seen kind of a role reversal of sorts over the year, where now local police agencies are all kind of competing for this small number of candidates,” Baeten said.
Baeten says it could be due to social issues. But he says it could also be because we ask a lot of our police.
“It’s not isolated to just ‘law enforcement.’ We frequently have officers that are responding to so many different types of incidents. With the number of duties that continually get added to a police officer’s job description, it’s become increasingly more difficult to find people that are willing to step forward,” he said.
He says that realization caused about a third of recruits in the last decade to drop during training.
“They need to have a really, really wide array, in terms of their skill set, to be effective at this job,” he said.
Dealing with the number of people who left during training has helped them better market to the kinds of officers they want with a good skill set for the job, Baeten says.
He says he thinks they’re on the path to being more diverse.
“I think we have a lot of work to do, but we have a lot of people in good positions to make that happen,” Baeten said.
He says they’re trying to market Wausau as a good place to live and raise a family, and working to reach out to candidates in larger cities.
Right now, the next step in recruiting is to bring in an initial round of applicants to meet for an interview.