Wausau Police Department

Officer hiring for homeless situation will be expedited 

Wausau Police Department

The hiring of two new officers to patrol downtown arising from a spate of problems with homeless individuals will be expedited.

Wausau Police Chief Matt Barnes told the city’s police and fire commission the two new officers could come on as early as May, and if not then most likely in June. 

Barnes says those new officers will backfill open positions and that he has already asked officers within the department who might be interested in the position. Barnes said he’d hoped at least two would express interest: but a total of eight officers expressed interest in the position, he told the commission. 

Barnes says despite pushback at the recent committee and council meetings in which the new officers were discussed and approved, he says they will not be down there hauling people to jail. He said if an officer spends his or her entire day with a homeless individual and that involves getting that person on the path toward housing or signed up for resources, or if the officer spends an entire shift at the library to ensure no bad behavior occurs there, he will consider that a successful day. 

Barnes told the city council on Tuesday that the two officers could be patrolling the downtown within a couple of weeks.