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As I See It

Police, courts should work out their differences in private



The rift between La Crosse police and the county’s judicial system continues to grow. Police have become increasingly frustrated with local judges, suggesting openly and publicly that our judges are soft on crime. A recent arrest magnifies that growing rift. Police arrested an Onalaska man this week who is being charged with dealing crack cocaine. The same man who was arrested for the same crime before. Twice. He was arrested in 2012 for cocaine possession with intent to deliver. He was sentenced to three years probation, although he was released from that sentence within a year. He was arrested again in October of last year, charged with conspiracy to deliver cocaine and heroin. He is scheduled to stand trial on those charges next month. Police argue too many people like that, some charged with more serious crimes, are being let off easy by La Crosse judges. It is easy to understand the frustration of local police, who no doubt are frustrated having to arrest the same people over and over, yet they continue to be given second chances by the courts. But it is not cut and dry. Judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and maximum sentences established by lawmakers. But the public airing and ribbing of the local judges isn’t likely to solve the dispute. These conversations should be held, but in private, to avoid a public spat. Perhaps a beer summit is in order. Because we all share the same goal, of keeping our community safe. How best to do that is the goal that needs to be realized, rather than bashing our courts to anyone who will listen.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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