"We can do more." Police chief addresses recent violence by teens

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- “We can do more.”

It was a message Thursday morning on the Wausau Police Department Facebook page written by Chief Ben Bliven.

The message comes following several acts of violence by teens in the city. Bliven writes it’s concerning, but comments comparing Wausau to Chicago or Milwaukee are upsetting.

“2019 has been a year we've seen too much violence from boys and young men in our community. From the homicide on the near west side to the baseball bat beating this summer to the 2 cases this week of young people discharging firearms; including the one last night.”

He’s asking gun owners to lock up their guns and to report it when you see a teen with a gun. And for parents to model good behavior for their children and their children’s friends. He said it’s important to help kids who are struggling and suggests people volunteer for kid-oriented organizations like Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the YMCA.

“Wausau is a great place. A SAFE place. People can feel comfortable walking our streets. We have people that care, give freely of their time and money, and work hard to make Wausau a great place. If you truly want to compare us to one of those communities, go there and walk the streets at night. Read about the violence that exists there. Get some perspective,” Bliven wrote.

He writes arrests are critically important when these incidents occur, but arrests aren't the solution. During an in-person interview with NewsChannel 7, Chief Bliven stated that he's glad this will become a community conversation.

"I think this is a good community conversation for us to have."

According to the Marathon County Health Department, criminal activity such as violence and human trafficking are often a result of substance abuse.

"One kind, caring and supportive adult in a youth's life may turn them away from a path that may lead them down a road to substance use or criminal activity," said Melissa Moore, Alcohol and other Drug Partnership with Marathon County.