Stevens Point Police Department faces officer shortage - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Stevens Point Police Department faces officer shortage

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STEVENS POINT Wis. (WAOW) -

The city of Stevens Point is growing along with its need for more police officers.

"We could always use more people," Mayor Mike Wiza said.

The current force includes 28 patrol officers and one drug officer.

"We are seeking four patrol officers to go to our patrol division and one drug officer," said Police Chief Martin Skibba. "So a combined total of five that we are requesting over the next several years."

The national drug epidemic is making it's way to Stevens Point, impacting the department's needs.

"Having a second drug officer, recognizing there's a unfortunately a need for that, we are reaching out to our council members to make them aware not only of the need but what we can do to address that," Skibba said.

Police said the department's new K-9 unit has made fighting illegal drug use a number one priority.

"We will not tolerate that in our community," Wiza added.

But they're facing a roadblock to getting those officers. The State of Wisconsin caps city spending on public services.

"The state has a limit on what we can and cannot do as far as spending," said Wiza. "To hire a new person, that comes out of our operating budget, we are capped at our net new growth."

The net new growth is not quite large enough yet to support those new jobs.

The Stevens Point Police and Fire Commission will be meeting on Tuesday to discuss the shortage and possible funding for the needed officers.

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