New correctional officers helping fill need in Milwaukee County

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee County has faced a shortage of correctional officers at both the jail and the Community Reintegration Center (CRC).

The county says increased pay and culture changes are helping address that to hopefully help those in the county's care when they re-enter the community.

"Hold myself and others…accountable for their actions."

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With their right hands raised, 25 correctional officers took the oath of office and walked across the stage on Friday, Feb. 9, as the latest MATC jail officer training class.

The officers are from Kenosha, Ozaukee, Racine, Waukesha, and Milwaukee Counties.

<div>Correctional Officers taking the oath of office</div>
Correctional Officers taking the oath of office

They include 11 men and women trained to work at the Community Reintegration Center.

"Being in the military and just watching my [military training instructors] and the impact he had on me, and others, brought that upon me," said Tyler Young, a CRC correctional officer and Air Force veteran.

The 25-year-old says he wanted to carry the impact over to his community. Instead of analyzing aerial photos and satellite imagery, he can instead be a role model and lend a helping hand to people who've made mistakes, noting that being in jail or CRC can carry an unwanted stigma.

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"If people would realize that corrections has much more to do with being a role model to other individuals," said Lt. Ben Schumacher, CRC Training Director.

"My job is to make sure everyone is okay, secure, and helping others to rehabilitate into society," added Young.

Starting during the pandemic, the county had trouble filling open correctional officer positions at both the jail and CRC.

<div>Correctional officer hourly pay range</div>
Correctional officer hourly pay range

The county executive says increasing pay to about $30/hour, bringing in new resident programming, occupational skills training to the CRC, and shifting the focus to re-integration has paid off.

"One of the reasons why I think we’ve been able to decrease that vacancy rate from 38% to 17% is because people believe in the vision, and people want to be a part of something that’s much bigger than them," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

And for Young, it's the first step in the right direction, not only for his career, but for his effort to help others.