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Wauwatosa police chief now has power to deny special events in parks, elsewhere

Organizers may need to pay overtime costs

March 21, 2012

Any Wauwatosa special events requiring added law enforcement presence must now apply for permits through the Police Department, and organizers may end up paying for any overtime officers work staffing their event.

The Common Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance amendment that expands the permit process that already exists for events - like parades - on city streets to events anywhere in the city.

Prompted by overtime costs incurred during a political rally earlier this year, the ordinance amendment defines a special event as "any organized event occurring on private or public property which, due to number of people involved, timing of event, or other factors deemed relevant by the chief of police, would require added police presence or crowd control activities beyond those normally provided through routine patrols."

The Police Department will have the authority to approve or deny all permit requests, or police officials could approve a permit with the contingency that the event organizers must pay for the costs of providing police presence.

Event organizers will have the option to appeal through the Legislation, Licensing and Communications Committee of the Common Council.

After thorough review of the ordinance, 4th District Alderman Dennis McBride said he is confident that it does not place impermissible restrictions on the exercise of political speech. He requested, however, that the council be notified of any requests that are denied.

The council approved the ordinance, 13-1, with 5th District Alderman Michael Walsh dissenting due to concerns about the ordinance being too broad. The ordinance will take effect upon publication.

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