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Myths about Milwaukee Police Hiring

I have to already have my degree in order to apply.

You do not need to already have your degree in order to apply to be a Police Officer with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).  State Law does require you to obtain at least 60 college credits or an associate degree from a Wisconsin Technical College System district or its accredited equivalent from another state within 5 years of employment.  If you're starting from scratch that works out to only 12 credits per year. You’ll have support along the way: MPD will also provide reimbursement for tuition and textbooks (up to $1,500 per year).  There are pay incentives for educational attainment - Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, and Master’s Degree attainment are all rewarded with pay incentives.  Refer to the latest Milwaukee Police Association contract with the City for full details regarding educational pay incentives.

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I'm not perfect, they wouldn't want me.

While it's obvious that society should hold its police officers to a higher standard than workers in other professions, that doesn't mean that you have to be perfect to apply.  If you care about the City of Milwaukee and are a person of integrity then you are the person we want for the job.  While there are some automatic disqualifiers such as being convicted of a felony or of misdemeanor domestic violence, other events in your past might not disqualify you.  However, it is important to be honest in your application process - you're applying to be a Police Officer and your honesty and integrity is what counts most.  A thorough background investigation will be conducted, and it's certainly best to be honest about your past before the background investigator begins that work.

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I can't apply because I don't live in Milwaukee.

It used to be the case that employees of the City of Milwaukee had to live within the city limits as a condition of employment.  Recent changes to State law has replaced this requirement with a rule that certain public safety employees (such as Police Officers) must live within 15 miles of the City’s jurisdictional border  Even if you don’t live within this region at the time of application, you have 6 months from the date of hire to comply with the residency requirement.  In addition, the FPC provides an avenue for temporary exceptions in the case of certain hardships.  For your convenience the FPC has created a searchable map detailing the 15 mile residency zone.

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I'm not physically fit enough.

The physical fitness requirements for admission to the Police Academy are reasonable and achievable.  Even if you aren’t ready right now, if you set yourself to the goal and start an exercise routine now you’ll be ready by the time you take the fitness test.  The Fire and Police Commission (FPC) will support your efforts and connect you to resources that will help you prepare for the testing.

During the application period, the FPC will explain and hold pre-employment fairs so that you can see what the minimum fitness requirements are before appointment. During the application process, the FPC is able to link you with mentors that can help along the way. After appointment, the Police and Fire Training Academy will work with you to condition you to be ready for all phases of physical fitness testing.

The State of Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board has produced a video that provides an overview of the physical testing process for Police Officers.

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My friends and family won't approve.

By becoming a Milwaukee Police Officer, you’re committing yourself to working to make Milwaukee a better place every day.  You can be proud that you’re the one your neighbors rely on when they need help.  From crisis situations to neighborhood problems to community meetings, you’ll be the one that answers the call and works towards solving problems and helping people, every day.  When your friends and family see that you are taking responsibility and action, making a family sustaining income, and  working towards justice in your community, they’ll know you made the right choice.  When people with integrity and honesty heed the call to serve, it benefits the entire community! 

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It's too dangerous.

Working as a police officer is a demanding position, but many people are surprised that the rate of injury in many other common occupations are comparable or worse.  For example, recent data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows that occupations such as truck drivers, roofers, and construction workers have higher rates of injury than police officers.  

Not only that, but consider the greater rewards: great pay, a rewarding and challenging career, great benefits, and an honorable profession.  A top priority of the Fire and Police Commission is that recruits receive impeccable training  so that when they are in the field, they’re ready and able to excel in the daily reality of the work.  You’ll be provided with 23 weeks of academy training and a comprehensive field training; all with an emphasis on your safety. You will be mentored the entire time, so that when you step in to actual police service you will be confident and ready.

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It's just a job.

Working  in the protective services is an honorable career, and the City is ready to invest in you.  In addition to the pay structure, there is a fully funded pension system, medical, dental, and life insurance, wellness programs, and opportunity for advancement.  You’ll enjoy a sense of camaraderie and fellowship with your coworkers that is unique to police service.  You’ll go to work each day ready to make the City a better place and go home each night with the satisfaction that you were to one to make the difference.

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What about all the stuff I see in the news?

A 2016 poll showed that Police Officers are one of the top 10 most  prestigious occupations in the America.  Regardless of the messages amplified in the media, people call the police when they’re in need and appreciate the service that the police provide.  In fact, a scientific survey of Milwaukee residents in both 2014 and 2017 found that almost three-quarters of the City’s residents are (somewhat or very) satisfied with the Milwaukee Police Department and the vast majority of the City’s residents desire police visibility where they live.  Most people in Milwaukee want the police in their neighborhoods and most people in Milwaukee are satisfied with the MPD.  And through the MPD’s commitment to Community Oriented Policing and the FPC’s efforts towards community outreach and recruiting and hiring the best candidates available, the relationship between the police and the community in Milwaukee will only get better.

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The testing is too complicated.

Because Police Officers hold such a vital and responsible position in our society we, rightly, hold them accountable to higher standards than we do ordinary citizens.  Police Officers hold the power to deprive citizens of liberty and even life when the situation demands; and this is not a power our society wishes to grant to anyone less than those who can prove that they will be capable and responsible shepherds of this duty. 

Due to the magnitude of the responsibility that the profession holds, prospective candidates are given a thorough testing process to determine their aptitude for and compatibility with the position.  The Fire and Police Commission (FPC) uses tests which are locally and nationally validated by an outside third party to measure aptitude for and compatibility with the position.  The testing process is overseen by a committee of FPC citizen board members who are dedicated to a qualified and representative police force, and the testing is administered by and experienced and professional civilian staff.  While the testing process does take time, the goal is to make sure that you are a good fit for the position and that you'll have a long and successful career with the City of Milwaukee.  Fire and Police Commission staff are available to answer any questions you may have during the process. 414-286-5000.

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I can’t apply because I have a tattoo.

We recognize that the public perception of tattoos is evolving and the MPD has adopted a tattoo policy that aims to balance this evolving cultural norm with the department’s need for professional and respectful officer appearance. 

In general, tattoos may not be profane, demeaning or contain messages that may be disruptive in the workplace, impact productivity, or give the appearance of a preference or bias to the public or other members of the MPD.  If a tattoo is visible when the department member is wearing their official uniform, the member must be granted approval for the marking from the Professional Appearance Committee.  Department members with visible markings that have not been approved by the Professional Appearance Committee or that are prohibited shall keep the marking completely covered with cosmetics or clothing while on-duty or in uniform. 

Please refer to the department’s official policy regarding tattoos and appearance for a complete understanding of the requirements. 

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