Madison Police Chief Noble Wray is sounding the alarm - the city stands to lose as much as a quarter of its officers in 2013 and 2014 as more of them become eligible to retire.
"We have 90 commissioned staff that are eligible to retire right now," says Wray, noting there are 454 commissioned officers currently on the force.
The state allows police officers and firefighters to retire at age 50 with a full pension, but some of the Madison officers are older than 50, increasing the likelihood of retirement, Wray says.
To compensate for the potential shortage, Wray has proposed moving the annual training academy from the spring to the fall in 2013. While that may seem counterintuitive, Wray says, "This will allow us to better assess the number of vacancies we have."
Madison police classes range from 20 to 25 students. If there's a shortage, the city could add up to 15 slots. Next fall's academy would be shortened from nine months to six months, with the department focusing on recruits who have police experience.
Alarm about a shortage of officers is nothing new, says Ald. Mike Verveer. "We hear every year about the huge number of cops eligible to retire, and many decide not to," he says. But Verveer supports the chief's plan and doubts it will run into any opposition with the council.