Proposed ordinance may require cameras in Chippewa Falls bars

Chippewa Falls, WI (WEAU) -- Cameras are everywhere, when we go to the grocery store, shopping, even at the drive-thru. Now, an area police station has proposed an ordinance to require cameras in bars as well.

Surveillance cameras at every bar entrance, exit and check-out may become commonplace in Chippewa Falls after members of the Chippewa Falls Police Department appeared before the city's public safety committee to discuss a proposed ordinance to require cameras at bars.

Kevin Bowe, the owner of the Tomahawk room says he doesn't think business owners should be required to buy surveillance cameras. Bowe says, "I think it's a great idea for bar owners to have cameras, I don't necessarily think that it has to be mandated that they get cameras."

The Chippewa Falls Police Department has proposed an ordinance to require cameras inside and outside of local bars. Detective Rob Teuteberg, with the Chippewa Falls Police Department says having the cameras in place has multiple benefits.

Teuteberg says, “I think it would increase officer's efficiency in investigations, as far as not having to spend so many hours doing it. If we can identify the persons involved immediately, that would be a great benefit to us as far as time efficiency. It would also help the people in the bar and it also protects the business. So, it really looks like a win, win, win situation all around."

The city already has an ordinance that requires maintenance of surveillance equipment for grocery and liquor stores. This proposed ordinance would extend the regulation to any business with a “Class B” liquor license.

Bowe says having cameras has helped his business. He says, "Before I had cameras I had a couple incidents of vandalism and since I've put them in, it hasn't curbed the vandalism, but I've been able to catch people who have done it and deal with the situation."

Bowe says he only views footage if there's an incident but some are still wary of being recorded. Chippewa Falls resident, Joseph Rave says, "I feel that's it's an invasion of privacy I think that if people go out for a drink or dinner I don't think they should have to be on camera, they shouldn't have to be watched."

Others feel it could help the community. Laurie Metcalf says, "If they're opposing it and they think about it, if they were ever in an accident wouldn't they want somebody else to witness it? Well if there's nobody else there, the camera is."

If the ordinance is passed Teutberg says it won't go into effect for a while, possibly January. And, while the businesses will have to purchase their own cameras, the department says they will work with them to ensure they have enough time buy the equipment.

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