MATC Law Enforcement Recruit Academy Leads Ally Mahl to Fulfilling Career


June 01, 2015

Ally Mahl

Ally Mahl was working as a pharmacy technician at a Walmart when she became fascinated with investigating prescription fraud and theft. Watching for the clues and patterns in these crimes eventually led to her interest in becoming a police officer. She enrolled in MATC's Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Associate Degree Program and eventually graduated from MATC's Law Enforcement Recruit Academy.

Mahl had earned an associate degree in arts and sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, but was uncertain about what career she wanted to pursue.

Putting Puzzle Pieces Together

As a pharmacy technician, she enjoyed looking for fake prescriptions or noticing people coming in with prescriptions using multiple names. "It was like putting a piece of a puzzle together. I felt good when I'd solve a puzzle," she said. Eventually, she began working in loss prevention for Walmart stores in Saukville and Brown Deer. She dressed in street clothing and walked the floors of the stores watching for shoplifters or monitored store security cameras. In this position, she had the opportunity to work with local police. It was then she decided she wanted to return to school to study to become a police officer.

She enrolled in MATC's Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice Associate Degree Program and studied for about a year before transferring into MATC's Law Enforcement Recruit Academy. Recruits need at least 60 credits to enter the academy. Mahl had more than enough credits from her associate degree from UW-Sheboygan and her year at MATC to qualify.

The Law Enforcement Recruit Academy is an intense program focusing only on criminal justice classes as opposed to the associate degree program, which includes general studies. The Milwaukee Police Department has its own academy, but a great number of officers from other southeastern Wisconsin police departments train at MATC's academy.


Ally Mahl

Knowledgeable, Experienced Instructors

Recruits go to school every weekday, eight hours a day for three months, studying with the same group of students. Mahl was chosen president of her class of 24 students. "It's very fast paced," she said. "Our instructors were so knowledgeable. They all have worked as police officers and they shared stories from their work on the job. That helps a lot. The amount we learned in a short time is amazing. I still go back and look at my books."

Mahl graduated from MATC's Law Enforcement Academy in November 2014. She began her job as a police officer for the City of West Bend in January 2015. During the first three months as a new officer in West Bend, new hires have "field training," which involves riding with another officer who observes their techniques and provides feedback. Mahl finished field training and now generally patrols alone.

A typical day includes a briefing, talking about recent incidents and answering calls that come in. If police are not busy answering calls, they usually stop in at stores and other establishment to get to know area business owners. "My job can range from investigating theft, to helping find a lost puppy, to investigating graffiti," Mahl said. "It's something new every day. I get the information and figure out how to resolve the situation."


Mahl holds the award she received for serving as president of her MATC Recruit Academy class.

Youth, Gender, Size Not a Factor

Mahl is petite and young -- 5'3", 120 pounds, 23 years old. Her small physical stature, youth and gender have not been an issue for her, she said. "I don't feel any backlash because I'm a female in a traditionally male job. I've not had any hurtful words or had anyone fight me harder because of my gender. It might happen at some point that someone underestimates me. But I was trained the same way as everyone else. We are trained to deal with that sort of situation if it arises.

"I focus on how I talk to people," Mahl said. "I approach policing by establishing a rapport if possible."

Mahl often reflects on her training in MATC's Recruit Academy. "I think back to classes and what instructors said about certain situations. Now some of that takes on more meaning. You don't think about certain things or you don't fully understand until you are actually doing the job."

Our instructors (at MATC's Recruit Academy) were so knowledgeable. They all have worked as police officers and they shared stories from their work on the job. That helps a lot. The amount we learned in a short time is amazing.

Ally Mahl graduate of MATC's Law Enforcement Recruit Academy

Rick Cole, instructor and director of the MATC Law Enforcement Recruit Academy, shared a conversation he recently had with Mahl. "Officer Mahl came to MATC to get the technical skills she needed to be a police officer. Recently, she told me about an incident in West Bend of an individual resisting arrest. Officer Mahl told me that she used the techniques Instructor Stephen Harlow taught her in 'Defense and Arrest Tactics.' She said she could hear his voice in her head. She was able to use the appropriate techniques and safely accomplish her arrest. She truly learned while she was here at MATC."


Mahl poses with her City of West Bend police patrol car.

In the future, Mahl thinks she would like to become a detective. For now, she is enjoying her current job. "It is very busy. You're constantly doing something. Every day is different. I really like to figure things out. I want to help people and give them answers. I like to be able to explain to people what happened and why. There is so much attention on what a few police officers do wrong these days. I want people to recognize all the good that police officers do."