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Green Bay police down officers after wave of retirement

WLUK photo/Don Steffens

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- The Green Bay Police Department posted a hiring video to its Facebook page a couple weeks ago.

Police Chief Andrew Smith says the department is still working to hire officers. He says the department just dealt with a wave of retirements.

"Right now we're down about 10 officers, 10 sworn officers that we're looking to hire," Smith said.

Starting salary for a patrol officer is similar at many departments across Northeast Wisconsin.

In Green Bay, an officer will start at $52,000 a year. That number doesn't include overtime.

A check of other department websites shows similar salaries in Ashwaubenon and Manitowoc at around $50,000 a year.

In Appleton, the salary starts at $55,000.

Chief Smith says applications are coming in, but says most have not been able to pass the background process.

"A lot of it has to do with theft, things that demonstrate that they don't have the right character to be a police officer."

Colleen Belongea is a criminal justice instructor at NWTC.

"Our enrollment in the academy has gone up in the last couple of years," she said.

She says the number of people signing up for the program has increased, but says they've seen similar issues as the police department.

"We have a lot of applications, then we have people kind of fall out of the program, whether it's because of background, academic issues, commitment," she explained.

Eighteen students are currently enrolled.

"I've always wanted to be a cop, started as a kid," said Adam Van Matre, who is a student in the program.

He says he has applied to departments, including Green Bay.

"I submitted my applications, but just haven't heard back," Van Matre said.

Chief Smith says the need to hire will increase in the coming months. Another 11 officers will be retiring in January.

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