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Costs keep police from wearing body cams despite growing public supportSubmitted: 04/08/2019
Story By Stephen Goin

Costs keep police from wearing body cams despite growing public support
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.

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Hodag Lanes Closing Submitted: 08/14/2020

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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. 

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"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. 

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Their first priority is getting a firm grasp on just how bad this issue really is.

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