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La Crosse police deal more and more with mental illness



He wanted to hurt himself. He wanted La Crosse Police officers to hurt him, too.

It happened earlier this week, a standoff on the corner of 7th and Farnam streets, between a man and police.

A Facebook video shows the confrontation, where police ended up having to tase the man. As he screams and hits the ground, the crowd recording begins to laugh, while police rush in.

Police Capt. Jason Melby says officers go through training to learn how to deal with disturbed individuals.

“Part of that training is being able to, first off, identify people and the signs of people that are having mental health issues,” Melby said, “because it’s not always readily apparent. And the other thing it does is teachers our officers how to deescalate a situation.”

Melby says there were no charges brought against the man, who was apparently suicidal. He was later evaluated at a local hospital.

Melby says using force is never taken lightly.

“All of our scenarios are never exactly alike,” Melby said. “Sometimes some of the basic techniques that the officers are trained are very effective.

“Sometimes they’re aren’t always effective, which means we end up in situations where we do apply force where we may not want to.”

Melby says officers are trained on dealings with mentally ill people, since it’s a much more common occurrence than in the past.

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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