Wausau Human Resources Committee Approves Community Outreach Specialist Position for Police Department | WSAU News/Talk 550AM 99.9FM
WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) – The Wausau Human Resources Committee has voted to approve the creation of a Community Outreach Specialist position within the city’s police department.
Police Chief Ben Bliven spent much of the meeting discussing the need for the post, saying many downtown businesses and other establishments such as the library have expressed concern about the problems created by homeless or homeless people. “I spoke with Mark Craig and his team in Washington Square, they have daily issues with people in their establishment. People aggressively begging, loitering, messy and fighting,” Bliven said.
Regarding the library, Bliven said staff would often handle incidents involving homeless people on their own without calling the police, but there are still many incidents where staff have had to call officers or ban patrons. to use the Services.
Bliven adds that Wipfli Accounting employees have complained about the smell of urine or feces in their parking ramps as they walk to work. Others were aggressively chased by beggars or witnessed people having sex in the stairwells. Additionally, he says at least one downtown business has lost regular customers because they were repeatedly bothered by someone begging outside the business.
Bliven says it all shows the need for the position, as this person would work with homeless people to try to get them back on their feet. He adds that it can be done, as the former housing task force officer has helped dozens of homeless people find permanent housing.
“In the summer of 2020 [we identified] 22 chronically homeless. As of September 2021, 12 of those 22 have been accommodated. A total of 42 people had contact with the Housing Task Force officer saying they were homeless or at risk of homelessness. At the time of this report, 29 of the 42 had housing,” Bliven said.
Monday’s meeting also featured an interruption by former Wausau Alder Deb Ryan, who was in the audience and attempted to offer her thoughts at one point, even though public comment was not part of the order of the day.
The vote came with an amendment that would allow the position to be transferred from the police department to another appropriate city department, should one be created in the future. The proposal will now go to an upcoming meeting of the city’s finance committee and city council for consideration.