Wausau Policing Task Force pushes back deadline for public input

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 6:34 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wausau Policing Task Force is hoping that more citizens will share their views on how law enforcement is doing in the city.

“I think we would have hoped for more input from the public. This is step one of a multi-step process to try to engage the community,” said Wausau Policing Task Force Chair John Robinson.

They say the public is instrumental in helping shape changes to policy and procedure.

“This is the first step of that process and what we’re trying to do is look for trends and that will drive a survey of the community,” said Robinson.

The task force will not make recommendations at this point, but they have pinpointed some issues to address beyond just crime.

“We’ve got a number of challenges lying ahead including looking at social needs and homelessness and trauma and how they impact policing,” said Robinson. He is a strong proponent of increasing the availability of the Crisis Assessment Response Team. The team pairs up law enforcement officers with mental health experts for sensitive calls, but currently is only available during weekday business hours.

Wausau Police Chief Benjamin Bliven says there is also a need to better understand ways to approach different ethnic groups in a diverse society.

“I think there’s always cultural differences, and I think that is one of the things that we as a police department can work on is what are those cultural differences, how does that impact the way we interact with people and it’s way more than just language,” said Bliven.

He believes that transparency is the key to a healthy relationship between the public and law enforcement.

“It’s really important that people understand their own law enforcement agency and so I really encouraged the members of our policing task force to go do ride-alongs with us. To see, to get a birds-eye view of what actually goes on, boots on the ground,” Chief Bliven said.

Bliven said he does not have a specific percentage of people he is trying to reach for feedback, but would be thrilled with 100 percent participation.

To go to the Wausau Policing Task Force website, click here.

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