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Wausau Policing Task Force nearing final recommendations

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 10:40 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wausau Policing Task Force is inching closer to presenting its recommendations to the city council. Monday night’s task force meeting was postponed, but there’s more of a sense of what their recommendations might be.

The main recommendations the task force is discussing include mental health issues, community engagement, cultural awareness, and officer wellness and training. They said these recommendations will help create a more efficient department. Their recommendations are based on more than 1,000 surveys and various studies.

“We were tasked with a mission. We’ve done that, we’ve surveyed the community and engaged them as much as we could, and now it’s time for us to present that,” Policing Task Force Chair John Robinson said.

Robinson said they finalized the officer wellness and training recommendation. They also finalized mental health services. This means involving social workers for support in situations with people experiencing mental health struggles rather than leaving it up to officers. Robinson said it’s vital to have the right people in the right situation, but there will be a cost factor.

“That will require resources, money, and people,” Robinson said. “So it will ultimately be a decision of the city council about how to best go about funding that.”

An issue the task force may soon finalize is cultural awareness. This means helping police officers better understand different groups like the Hmong community, African Americans, Afghani, and LGBTQ.

Community engagement is another issue they’re discussing. This recommendation would provide better communication and connection with people living in Wausau to build trust with the police.

“There are certain populations that struggle with their relationship with the police department I think that calls for us paying attention to it,” Robinson said.

While the task force didn’t meet Monday night, they hope to meet next week to finalize their recommendations. They expect to present them to the city council in February.

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