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Wausau considers public intoxication ordinance, Police prefer 400 Block alcohol ban

by
Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel
Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - Wausau leaders will vote Tuesday on a proposed public intoxication ordinance. This is one of the ways the city is trying to deal with a few people causing problems in public parks. There have been problems with broken liquor bottles, people urinating in public and even on the 400 Block stage, and some loud and inappropriate behavior.

Police Chief Jeff Hardel says they are already using two options to help curb bad behavior in the parks. “Those people that have been criminally charged, we’ve been asking the judge to set a bond condition that they cannot attend the park that they were arrested in. Now, we have a park ban in place, so when they are cited for some violation, we can ban them from the park.”

Chief Hardel is hoping the Wausau City Council passes a third tool at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. That is the proposed public intoxication ordinance. That would allow police the ability to charge drunk and disorderly people with public intoxication.

So far, city leaders have been reluctant to ban alcohol outside of events on the 400 block, but Hardel says doing so would certainly help. “I’ve said all along that, you know one of the options that they should consider is an alcohol ban on the 400 Block outside of events. I think it’s up to city leaders to decide what they want to do, (and) I understand that might not be a popular choice, but I think that’s, as far as I’m concerned, that would be the one tool that would really help the officers the most.”

The Chief is thankful for the recent changes by City Council, but the present ordinances allowing alcohol in parks like the 400 block often cast a negative image to park visitors. “They’re basically appalled at some of the behaviors they’ve been seeing by the alcoholics, and so they look at police that are down there in that area and they’re saying, “Why are you allowing this to happen?””

Hardel believes it is an image issue city leaders should look at, since many visitors at the 400 block don’t feel comfortable or safe bringing children to the splash pool because of a few people behaving badly.

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