Does La Crosse need a citizens oversight board to keep an eye on what city police are doing?
Many citizens who have spoken out on the idea believe local police have not been transparent enough about their activities. La Crosse’s assistant police chief, Rob Abraham, says his department is open and transparent.
“You have to have expertise,” Abraham said Tuesday on La Crosse Talk. “This can’t just be kind of a board running around out there with an ax-to-grind kind of mentality, and kind of a ‘we’re gonna getcha’ squad.”
Abraham says such a board needs to include members with experience in law enforcement, and should not be one-sided.
“The current subcommittee that is trying to make some of these decisions, trying to make some of these recommendations, certainly doesn’t have any law enforcement input in it right now,” Abraham said. “It’s a handpicked group.”
Abraham is concerned that the type of committee being formed will be looking to blame police for problems in the community, such as the experiences of non-white residents in the city.
“When members on the board say things like, ‘The mechanism that causes harm in our community is law enforcement,’ that type of attitude and that type of one-sided thought isn’t gonna really bring a lot of collective agreement,” Abraham said.
Supporters of the oversight board concept have argued during community forums for an end to the School Resource Officer program in La Crosse’s public schools.