School Superintendent Requests Police Presence at Meetings
By Brandi Makuski
School and law enforcement officials have confirmed police presence has been requested by public school Superintendent Attila Weninger for a stand by officer to be present at school board meetings.
Weninger said he requested an officer be present at last Wednesday’s Student Achievement/Policy & Legislative Committee meetings, and again at Monday’s upcoming regular School Board meeting. His request stems from one resident’s speaking style, which he called “somewhat loud” and “disruptive” and felt police presence would keep the individual in check.
Officials confirm school board meetings have not become physically violent, nor has any threat of physical violence been made. The resident in question has been an avid speaker at school board and other public meetings for years, but officials would not confirm his identity.
“This behavior has happened in other municipalities at the county and city level, as I understand it,” Weninger added. “We felt the presence (of a police officer) would help things proceed in a calm manner. We expect citizens who come to meetings to act the same way.”
Stevens Point Assistant Police Chief Tom Zenner said the request is the first of its kind.
“We’ve had officers at city meetings, especially if we anticipate a particular heated issue, to assist with the public,” Zenner said. “Not everybody wants to hear, or be subject to, the ramblings that can explode a bit.”
Zenner said no patrol officer was available for Wednesday’s meeting, so a department investigator on overtime was sent. He added a patrol officer would be present for Monday’s regular school board meeting.
When asked if he felt police presence was an appropriate measure under the circumstances, Zenner said, “maybe we’re use to things at a city meeting that they aren’t use to at school board meetings. I could come up with all kinds of ideas and guess why, but it’s not my place, and I really wouldn’t know for sure anyway.”
“But I can’t say this is a normal request,” he added.
Zenner said the department would work with school district administrators to plan long- term solutions for any problems, but Weninger said he didn’t think it would be necessary.
“I think just the presence of the officer would be enough,” Weninger said. “I hope- I believe it would be enough to stop any further disruptions.”