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School Resource Officer program in La Crosse Schools could end at board meeting Monday night

Brad Williams

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For months, we’ve been told that the La Crosse school board will get a report in November on whether to keep city police in school buildings.

Monday night that report from comes from La Crosse Schools Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel, who will recommend to the board whether to continue the School Resource Officer (SOR) program, which has assigned La Crosse police officers to school buildings for almost 30 years.

Criticisms of the local SROs have followed nationwide demonstrations against police this year.

Engel said reports of crimes in schools have gone down, during the time that SROs have been inside La Crosse schools.

“Crimes in general for youths have been on a signfincant decline since the mid-90s,” Engel said. “Schools have never been safer, so that’s one thing to know.”

A survey to parents, faculty and students about the police program was completed last week.

In late September, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said during a public forum, which included La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron, the program was likely going to end.

“If I were a betting person, I would be betting that the SRO program is going to go away or mostly go away,” Kabat said. “Maybe there will be some modification to it, but I think it’s significantly going to change.”

At another forum in mid-October, all but one of the 17 who spoke, were against having police in schools.

The current $250,000 contract between La Crosse police and the school district expires in June.

Some students and families have been asking for the program to be ended, arguing that the officers intimidate students.

One community group says it’s having an internet “watch party” to hear the superintendent’s report.

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.

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