Green Bay Police back to nearly full staff
By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – Like other local law enforcement agencies across the country, the Green Bay Police Department has experienced some difficulties recruiting and retaining officers in recent years.
According to Captain Ben Allen of GBPDs Professional Standards Division, the department needs to have 187 officers on the books to be considered fully staffed and, at one point not long ago, that number was in the low 160s.
“Our numbers were really low for the last several years,” Captain Allen said. “That was contributed to by some of the things that were happening socially around the country and certainly here in our state and our city. But also retirements. It’s a cycle that happens where a big group of people get hired and then 25 and 30 years later, those big groups start to retire. It was kind of a perfect storm where a lot of things were contributing.”
Weathered the storm
There is good news to begin 2023 though, as the GBPD is happy to report it currently has 186 sworn officers and that recruitment efforts are not slowing down at all.
“It’s really a credit to Captain Allen and Chief (Chris) Davis, and really, all the rank-and-file officers at the Green Bay Police Department. They’ve done a fantastic job of recruiting both new folks into the profession and also identifying officers from other agencies who might be more comfortable here,” Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich said. “But our strongest advocates are going to be the members of the department themselves and I think they’ve been doing a fantastic job, spreading the word among colleagues that the Green Bay Police Department is a great place to do the job.”
The department is anticipating a handful, as many as six, retirements or transfers in 2023 and it plans to remain proactive about future hires, having a list of eligible candidates at the ready so it can move quickly to bring in officers as the need arises.
“We like to have full background investigations, the full process for hiring, completed so that we can just go to that list, pick out a candidate and plug them into the opening that we have.” Allen said, noting that great relationships with institutions like Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Fox Valley Technical College and Lakeland Police Academy are doing great work in preparing candidates to enter the field.
According to Allen, the list currently has around 10 potential candidates with another six in the process of going through other various stages of the GBPD hiring process, giving the department plenty of options for filling in gaps when officers transfer or retire.
“So, it looks very good for us, going into the future with good candidates,” Captain Allen said. “We’ve got a good list of candidates we can pull from.”
Help from City Hall
With a relocation incentive of $5,000, as well as down payment assistance programs, available to all city employees but being pushed particularly hard towards firefighters and police officers right now, the city of Green Bay is putting in a lot of effort to help with the recruitment process.
“I personally think its a great benefit to a neighborhood’s stability to have police officers, firefighters located in Green Bay neighborhoods. So what we’ve created here is a down payment assistance program for city employees targeted at low-to-moderate income neighborhoods within the city. We’re also very interested in existing officers taking a look at the program and move into the city if they’re not currently in Green Bay proper.”
Captain Allen emphasized that the department has always made an effort to have a presence in Green Bay’s neighborhoods. And now, with the agency just one hire away from full strength, that emphasis is showing up and not just with patrol cars being more visible on our city’s streets. Current numbers on gun crimes in Green Bay were released recently and they show a turn in the right direction. In 2022, the department responded to 61 calls for shots fired, compared to 82 in 2021 for a 26% decrease.