Chippewa Falls Bars May Be Required To Install Security Camera Systems

Police Officials Say Security Cameras Will Save On Taxpayer Money

By: Jerry Wong (BY-NC-ND)

The Chippewa Falls Police Department wants to require bar owners to install security cameras while having access to the recordings at any time.

The ordinance would require security cameras at all entrances, checkouts, cash registers and public areas within a bar. Bar owners would also be required to keep recordings for three weeks for police officers to review at any time.

The proposal was introduced by the Chippewa Falls Police Department, which says requiring cameras in all bars would speed up investigations, saving taxpayers money.

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City Council Member Mike Hanke said he gets the argument but doesn’t entirely support the proposal.

“I understand the positive influence it can do with saving a lot of time for detectives to investigate and solve certain crimes but, then again, I am somewhat reserved about the language that was in the proposed ordinance regarding forcing just one type of business owner to do something,” said Hanke.

Chippewa Falls has a similar ordinance for liquor and grocery stores and the police department says other cities do too.

But Tavern League of Wisconsin spokesman Scott Stenger said if they do, he’s never heard of them. He also notes that taverns and bars are small businesses and security camera systems can cost upwards of $2,000.

“To require a tavern to put in a cameras at their exits, their entrance and other areas within the establishment is going to be extremely costly, and I just don’t think it will accomplish much of the goal other than bringing big brother to the city of Chippewa Falls,” Stenger said.

Bar owners who refuse to comply with the proposed ordinance could face fines as high as $500 and might not get their liquor license renewed.

The issue has been tabled and may be taken up again by the council in two weeks.

Correction: The original headline of this article erroneously read, “Chippewa Falls Bars Required To Install Security Camera Systems.” In fact, the rule is still just a proposal, and bars are currently under no obligation to install any cameras.