Former Milwaukee Police Officer Mitch Ross, a member of the Jewish community who has been working on local security for years, has joined Milwaukee Jewish Federation as a security manager.
He started Feb. 7, 2022, after his retirement from the Milwaukee Police Department last year.
“Mitch has been an active law enforcement partner and an invaluable security resource to the local Jewish community for nearly a decade,” said the Federation Director of Security & Community Properties Ari Friedman.
Ross started with the Milwaukee Police Department as a patrol officer in 2000. He was one of the oldest in his class at 42.
Ross grew up in Chicago’s Albany Park, which was predominantly Jewish at the time, in the 1960s and 1970s.
“I always wanted to be a police officer, but my career path took a change,” Ross said. There was a family illness. “I had to work, so I went to work. I worked a number of years in a lumberyard and hardware store, as the manager of that.”
From there, he spent 18 years in the transportation business, entering freight sales and then transferring to Wisconsin to manage a transportation terminal for a trucking company.
“But again, being a police officer was something I always wanted to do since I was probably about 10 years old,” he said. “My parents were friends with some police officers as a young child, so I got to know them. And neighbors were police officers. When I was very young, the house was broken into, and we were in the house when it was broken into. And when the police arrived, they got all the information. Shortly thereafter, they caught the man who broke into our house. He was breaking into another house. It was a couple blocks away. And for whatever reason I thought that was so cool.”
While managing the transportation terminal, Ross saw an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, indicating that the Milwaukee Police Department was looking for officers. He thought about how he was ten years from his fifties and decided, it’s now or never.
Ross went on to become a member of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Major Incident Response Team. He spent much of his career assigned to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Intelligence Fusion Center.
The local Fusion center is part of a network of similar centers nationwide. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Homeland Security created this fusion system to serve as a melting pot of resources for emergency management. It helps make sure law enforcement and officials are all communicating with one another, Ross said.
As part of his work with the Fusion Center, he called Milwaukee Jewish Federation about ten years ago to connect with the community and initiate greater cooperation. He’s been working with Friedman and the Jewish community ever since. He served as co-security chair for the 2015 JCC Maccabi Games.
Ross was also on the Milwaukee Democratic National Convention security planning team. He was an adjunct instructor at the Milwaukee Police Training Academy. He has instructed on suspicious activity reporting, civilian response to active shooter events, suspicious package and bomb threat response, and the eight signs of terrorism and information collection on patrol.
Ross’s role for Federation will be to assist with community security training and presentations, to add another layer of community vigilance, and to build awareness. He will also staff the security desk at the Helfaer Community Service Building, 1360 N. Prospect Ave.
“Security and safety is a constant work in progress. We must have communication, to keep the community safe, and not just on YouTube, but in the communities in which we live and work,” Ross said. “To stay safe, we have to have the open lines of communication and learn from each other.”