Law enforcement job outlook a challenge

Midland County Sheriff Myron Greene’s efforts to fill vacant or soon-to-be vacant positions within the department have been relatively successful of late but the bigger challenges lie ahead for policing both locally and nationwide.with the pool of applicants continuing downward.

It’s tough right now, Greene admits, for a variety of reasons. “There are not as many people going into the profession as there used to be, so that’s one of the issues,” Greene says “Delta’s police academy, their numbers have been all over the place. They have had as few as nine in their academy - at one time - whereas normally it has been as many as 30 or 40. So agencies and municipalities have had to get creative with their recruitment strategies and that is just about everybody,”

“And, this is not a problem that is unique to Mchigan, it’s nationwide,” he says. According to statistics updated this year by the Police Executive Research Forum, founded in 1976 as a research and policy organization and a provider of management services, technical assistance, and executive-level education to support law enforcement agencies, in January 2023, sworn staffing was 0.9 percent lower than in January 2022 and 4.8 percent lower than in January 2020.

Bridge Michigan, a nonpartisan, non profit news outlet, reported that data from the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), the state agency that offers certification for police officers, showed that there were slightly more than 23,000 police officers working in Michigan in 2001. Today, the figure hovers around 18,500.

But here’s good news locally, Greene relates. Midland County, as of Monday, is sponsoring three positions for road patrol through Delta College’s police academy, thanks to grants from the State of Michigan which were authorized just over a year ago. And a fourth position has already been filled. In the past, applicants paid their own way through the academy in hopes of landing a job.

“In Michigan the Legislature approximately a year ago, set aside $30 million for training and recruitment, which is what is allowing us to sponsor those three in the police academy that we have right now.” Greene says the grants pay for the approximately $9,000 tuition for the academy and for wages while they are in school, in exchange for committing to employment for varying lengths of time.

Two separate agencies set standards for road patrol and the corrections department, even though there is movement between specialties They are: 

Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), sets requirement for road patrol - Associates Degree and 17 weeks at a police academy

Michigan Sheriff’s Coordinating & Training Council (MSCTC) sets requirements for Corrections Department, high school diploma and 160 hour Local Corrections Officer Academy.
Sheriff's deputy and a future recruit
Once applicants have been through the academy, the job keeping good personnel remains daunting, Greene says, due to competition from other agencies, the tight labor market and retirements. Most larger law enforcement agencies offer larger pay and benefits packages, many are now offering signing bonuses, work credit for lateral moves, better hours and other perks not available to smaller departments.

Greene recognizes that a lot has to be done to improve the market high school students see and he recognizes that there is a negative perception often in the mass media, and “certainly in the social media.” That perception, he believes, pertains to most of those in positions of authority. Then you have those who challenge government in general, and sovereign citizens and the Second Amendment fanatics. 

“There is a noticeable decline in the number of people going into the profession,” he says. “In addition, there is the inherent danger of the work. If you look at the facts, more officers are injured and killed by guns today. And you open up yourself and your family.”

Greene says advertising is being done through the  normal outlets, mass media websites, McCOLES, MSCTC, and other social media. Greene also says that there is a trend to go into high schools and talk to students to point out that law enforcement is an option, particularly among those who are interested but unsure of what is available.
Sheriff Myron Greene at his swearing-in ceremony with Judge Stephen Carras and Midland County Clerk Ann Manary
““That was me when I graduated. I knew I wanted to go into law enforcement. They (Michigan State Police Academy) had a Student Trooper program, a week of classes” to acquaint future law enforcement recruits with actual situations.“One class was for a “mass casualty incident, … during the week they wake you out of a  dead sleep , put you under stress, see how you function, I loved it.”

He then earned his Associate’s Degree, paid his way through Delta College Police Academy and started working in Marine Patrol for the working experience and a  foot in the door. 

“We have to tell them (students) not to give up on the profession,” he says, “It still is a noble and rewarding profession and you can still get a gratifying feeling that you are helping in your community, instead of the negative things you read about in the media.” Helping can take many forms, working in the courts, jail, road patrol, Drone program, SWAT team, detective bureau, etc.

He has enjoyed his 30-plus years, he says. “I’ve always thought Midland County has paid their employees a fair wage ,” he notes. “I’ve been here 31 years. You don’t stay with an employer that long if you don’t enjoy it.”

An employment application can be obtained at the Midland County Human Resources Department located at 220 W Ellsworth Midland, MI 48640 or you can complete the application process online. Once completed, the application can be e-mailed to . Questions can be directed to Captain Shannon Guilbeaux at (989) 839-4624 or

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Read more articles by Ralph E. Wirtz.

Ralph E. Wirtz is a native Midlander who retired from the Midland Daily News as a managing editor in 2015. He has been freelancing since then in between traveling and volunteering. He has four adult children, all who graduated from Bullock Creek High School as he did. He is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and a Central Michigan University grad. He can be reached at