Police say Wausau public intoxication ordinance working - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Police say Wausau public intoxication ordinance working

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Wausau Police said a new ordinance to crack down on public intoxication is working. The ordinance was unanimously approved by Wausau City Council members last month.

It's been almost a month since the ordinance went into effect, basically making it illegal to be extremely drunk in public.

Some downtown business owners said they haven't seen a difference, but Wausau Police said they have, even though they haven't handed out a single citation.

Wausau Police have been patrolling the streets, armed with a new tool.

"The officers have been averaging roughly 100 calls for service at the 400 block a month, or more," said Jeff Hardel, Wausau Police Chief.

The tool: a city ordinance banning public intoxication.

"They become intoxicated and inebriated, there's also part of the ordinance that says there has to be some kind of disorderly or nuisance-type behavior that goes along with the public intoxication," said Hardel.

Before this ordinance took effect, officers said they were seeing too much inappropriate behavior in public, from people who had too much to drink.

Now, violators faces fines of as much as $300.

Although Wausau Police said they've issued no citations since the ordinance went into effect, they said they've seen fewer problems at the 400 Block.

"I think all of the tools that the officers have now at their disposal has clearly helped us try to gain control of the downtown park," said Hardel.

City council members said they didn't expect many citations.

"It's a tool that's there to use if they need to use it, but we certainly didn't expect they'd use it every day or every weekend," said Lisa Rasmussen, Wausau City Council President.

But we spoke to some business owners who are frustrated they haven't seen much change. They didn't want to speak to us on camera.

One downtown worker said he didn't see much of a problem to begin with. But he still supports this effort.

"Anything to make our community safer is a good thing," said Seth Alwin.

Community leaders said this ordinance is doing just that.

Newsline 9 also asked Wausau Police officials if they use extra patrols in problem areas.

Officials told us they do not. Instead, they said they use normal staffing levels to enforce the ordinance.

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