WAUSAU - Body cameras can protect police officers and the people they serve, but many departments in Wisconsin don't use them.
They can provide much needed context for difficult interactions between the law and civilians. That was the case for a policeman in Crandon two years ago.
In October 2017, a Crandon police officer was attacked during a traffic stop by a man who was drunk and high.
When the officer shot and killed him, the body cam footage showed he was justified when that man tried to take his gun.
More than 90 per cent of people in Wisconsin support police wearing body cameras, according to a new study by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.
But Axon, a leading body cam manufacturer, says only 60 of Wisconsin's more than 500 police and sheriff's departments use their product.
The Wausau Police Department is one of them.
"Our patrol officers are mandated to use their body cameras any time that they're having a contact with a member of the public," said Wausau Police Captain Todd Baeten.
Wausau PD is so proud of its body cameras, it even posted about them on Facebook this weekend.
"Our profession is one that's under intense scrutiny to begin with … body camera is just kind of another opportunity for the officers to show that they're maintaining really high standards," said Baeten.
But storing all the data body cameras collect can be expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars a year.
"That's an extremely large amount of money for the Rhinelander Police Department," said Rhinelander Police Chief Lloyd Guathier.
At about $2 million, RPD's budget is more than four times smaller than Wausau's.
Guathier added that the extra data would create extra work, too.
"When you have that much more data, that's more time the employee has to be going through," said Gauthier.
But he said body cams would ultimately be worth it if they money was there.
"We're very supportive of the idea, but it all comes down to cost."
It costs the Wausau Police Department $50,000 a year to store data from body and dash cams, as well as footage from interview rooms.
That's close to how much it would cost to hire another officer, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.
MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee's former police chief, who was demoted to captain in part for using tear gas against protesters demonstrating over George Floyd's death, has chosen to retire instead of staying with the department.
The city's Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously last week to demote Chief Alfonso Morales.
Commissioners criticized how Morales handled multiple incidents involving Black people, including the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown.
Speaking Wednesday on WTMJ-AM, Morales said he's retiring because if he returned as a captain it would be at a reduced salary and would negatively impact his pension payments.
Morales also defended his record as chief.
His attorney says he and Morales are exploring a range of legal action, including filing a claim for damages.
RHINELANDER - After over 50 years of staying open, Hodag Lanes in Rhinelander has officially closed its doors.
"I mean COVID has hit the bowling business really, really hard no matter where your bowling center is," said Sharon Cline, bowling manager at Hodag Lanes.
And with the construction on Stevens Street, the bowling alley was in a tough situation.
"The construction was also a big play for us because with all the construction out here it was tough for anybody to get through," Cline said.
A lot of memories were created in the bowling alley for various citizens in the city.
"I probably started bowling in the early '80s on the Wednesday night women's league," said Sherri Schilleman, Rhinelander resident. "We had the 9 o'clock slot I believe back then."
For her and many families in Rhinelander, bowling was very popular.
"Bowling is actually a big sport in Rhinelander," said Schilleman. "And I think in the last couple of years bowling was actually starting to make another comeback. So it's sad because people are gonna have to find something else to do."
But Cline is hoping that this won't be the end for Hodag Lanes.
"It is costly to have a bowling center but we're just hoping again that we can get up and running again," said Cline.
- The Rhinelander school district announced today a blended reopening plan for the 2020-21 academic year. The blended option will include high school and middle school students attending in-person classes twice a week, with the remainder of the week being online. Meanwhile, K-5th will have a four day school week, with Wednesdays off for a school-wide cleaning. Despite the district's decision to offer partly online classes, not all parents are ready for their students to return back to the school hallways.
"We have to put health in front of money. we have to put health in front of other important things to make sure everybody is okay to continue to enjoy the things we like so much. and if this is just one way we can keep her safe and the family safe,..again we just decided as a family that's the best route for us," Rhinelander parent, Kate Bauman said.
For parents wanting an alternative option, they can sign up for the districts online option by tomorrow night, August 9th, 2020.
MENOMINEE RESERVATION - A 2019 bill aiming to create a task force focused on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, or MMIW, failed to come up for a vote in Madison. Attorney General Kosh Kaul knows the issue is too important to public safety to do nothing.
"I think that this is too important an issue to wait for the next legislative session and then not be sure what's gonna happen so we went ahead and created this task force," says Kaul.
The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Task Force will bring together leadership from Wisconsin's 11 tribal nations, along with municipal, county, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement.
Their first priority is getting a firm grasp on just how bad this issue really is.
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