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Wausau's new police officers selected, now in training


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Wausau has five new police officers. Chief Jeff Hardel says four of them were sworn into office Monday, and another will take the oath next month.

The Chief says this will bring the department back up to full strength, but it won’t be right away.  “Two of them have to go through recruit school, and the other three will have to go through FTO (Field Training Officer), so FTO is about an 18 week program. Recruit school is 720 hours, so we won’t see that individual that’s going to start in recruit school at the end of May, we won’t see him until the end of the year.”

Hardel says the city police department looks carefully at the charactor of the person, and says the city is able to get and keep good officers by putting the right people through training.  “Many other departments will only hire individuals that are state certified, in other words, they have to complete their recruit school on their own. We take a little different approach in that we first want to find the right fit. We want to find the right person that’s a good fit for the community, a good fit for the police department, and has the right character that we’re looking for, and then we will supply the additional training. I always say we hire for character and train for skills.”

Hardel says there are a number of specialty areas officers can focus their training on, and that also helps with retention.

He says selecting five was difficult since they had over 100 quality applicants.  “About 150 people applied, then we have an extensive process that we go through. This was the deepest class I think we’ve had in a long time. Quality individuals all the way down through 9 and 10.”

The new recruits include one from Marathon City, two that were previously corrections officers at the Marathon County Jail, and another from the Platteville area. They are Garrett Carr, Katie Mallum, Brian Burkhardt, Matt Withrow, and Rory Jirovec.

(Listen to our interview with Chief Jeff Hardel on our website, here.)