By Alyssa Frierson
Wausau’s Finance Committee this week approved funding for a heightened police presence at popular local events beginning with the 2020 event season.
Police officials, during a recent Public Health and Safety Committee meeting, expressed concern over the ratio of event-goers to the number of officers at well-attended events.
Wausau Police Deputy Chief Matt Barnes, during the Public Health and Safety Committee meeting, proposed increasing the number of community service officers, or CSOs, and providing mentors to CSOs to grow the available police presence.
Barnes advocated for a dozen police officers and a dozen CSOs in addition to emergency staff at some events. He is also proposing that event applications include emergency management plans that would be subject to approval by fire and police departments.
“We’ll need a well fleshed out plan for the 2021 budget for certain, but given the fact that we’re coming up now to spring and the cusp of the 2020 events season, those concerns still exist,” said City Council President Lisa Rasmussen. “We’re looking to have a discussion as a finance committee and some recommendations for how we can get over that hurdle for this summer in this budget year, and then we can really work on planning in ernest going forward for the future years.”
Funding for this summer’s event staffing needs will come from the 2019 surplus of funds for this year.
More detailed discussions regarding funding for staffing in 2021 and beyond are pending.