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Survey highlights Wisconsin residents’ opinions on policing

Wausau Policing Report
The court of public opinion is now a part of Wisconsin's policing efforts.

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- A new report from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association released Tuesday shares whether Wisconsinites approve of their community's policing.

"I do think we have really good support here in our community, and our officers are trained at a very high level," said Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven, who's outspoken in support of his officers. And according to the survey, a majority across the state feel similarly of their own police department.

A thousand Wisconsinites were polled earlier this year, and a majority of whites (86%) and non-whites (84%) have at least "some respect" for officers in their community.

But the past year has been challenging for both officers and public perception on a variety of issues, like training and racism.

According to the survey, most people (93%) agree having a well-trained force makes communities safer, but it also says racism is something that needs to be further addressed, as 73% of whites say racism is at least "somewhat of a problem in our society." 82% of non-whites share that opinion.

Chief Bliven says to lessen any worries, it starts with the hiring process.
"We hire for character and we train for skill. We believe strongly in our core values, and we talk about those every single day," Bliven said. "Because at the end of the day, we can create laws and create policies, but the most important thing for our police officers and how they treat others is 'what kind of person are they?'" Bliven added.

He also says good policing needs the trust of the community, and that's something he says the department is always attempting to build.

"So first and foremost, to build trust, we have to have good people, and I believe very firmly we have excellent people doing the job of police officer in the city of Wausau," Bliven said.

Isak Dinesen

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