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La Crosse police, judges speak to committee on court controversies

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La Crosse police and local judges have been at odds recently, because of cases, where the cops and internet bloggers thought criminals were given lenient sentences or were let out of jail too easily.

On Wednesday morning, three La Crosse County judges, and some police representatives, sat in on a county meeting on law enforcement, where they were offered suggestions on how to settle their differences in a civil manner.

And the discussion was civil. La Crosse’s interim police chief, Rob Abraham, apologized to judges, who might have taken his public statements personally.

“The judges are good people,” Abraham said, referring to the county’s chief judge, Ramona Gonzalez. “I know them all. … Ramona is a saint.”

Abraham, however, argued that he feels a need to tell the public, if he thinks dangerous people are being let out on the streets, partly because local news media can’t attend every court hearing.

In June, Abraham criticized Judge Gloria Doyle for releasing a young sexual assault suspect from jail twice in two days, allowing the suspect to return to the scene of an alleged crime.

“When we take potshots at each other in public, without giving all of the information,” Gonzalez said, “that undermines the integrity and the faith that our community has in the system.”

Gonzalez and Abraham were asked to comment in their roles as members of the county’s Criminal Justice Management Council, which meets every third Wednesday of the month.

The other judges and police officials attending the council session did not speak during a public comment portion of the meeting.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.