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Wausau Policing Task Force reviewing survey results

The Wausau Policing Task Force is getting closer to making its recommendations to improve the police department.
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 9:43 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wausau Policing Task Force is getting closer to making its recommendations to improve the police department.

It’s been a little over one year since the Wausau Policing Task Force first met. The force tells NewsChannel 7 they’ve spent most of their time learning the procedures of the department and some things have left them surprised.

“It’s interesting just what an officer goes through during the night, it’s wild,” Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg was inspired to create a Policing Task Force in Wausau after George Floyd’s death. Protests were held nationwide asking for changes in policing, and Wausau was no different.

“I really wanted to make sure we were responsive to the community… you have 2,000 people saying something to you. We had a huge demonstration last year and what I don’t want to do is say across the board, ‘this is what we’re doing’ without thinking through what that looks like,” Rosenberg said.

Now after a year of analysis, the Task Force is honing in on the community’s needs. The Task Force has gotten over 1,200 responses on a city-wide survey over the year.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time lately talking about some of the social needs and the mental health needs, and we’re working on recommendations,” Wausau Policing Task Force Chair John Robinson said.

Robinson said survey results show overall support for Wausau Police, but there’s a strong concern for mental health. He said in ride alongs with officers, they came across people struggling mentally in the first half hour.

“We’re currently putting the law enforcement in the driver’s seat in those and I think we need to think about how we respond to those and the support we offer to the police department,” Robinson said.

Survey results show 35% of respondents felt less safe this year than last year.

The Task Force also found that cultural differences play a role in people’s view of police, along with generation differences.

The Task Force is working on recommendations to expand their Crisis Assessment Response Team of mental health professionals to help free up police officers. Once the Task Force has its recommendations, they will then have a public hearing for input.

The force expects to offer recommendations by the start of 2022.

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