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Plans to form police oversight panel move ahead in county

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A La Crosse County committee wants to form a second committee, to study the idea of setting up an oversight group to keep an eye on law enforcement. 

The vote Wednesday by the county executive committee calls for the creation of an ad hoc study group, to see if there’s a need for a police oversight panel in the area. 

County board chair Monica Kruse defends the idea of finding ways to improve policing.

“This is definitely not anti-police,” said Kruse. “This is to help the police get better.”    

Law enforcement around the U.S. has been criticized heavily in the year since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis.  Several citizens in La Crosse County have called for an oversight group to watch what local officers are doing.     

The proposal for a study that could lead to an oversight board passed, with just one vote against  the idea.

That came from supervisor Andrea Richmond, who argues that local law officers are doing a good job.  She says state law calls for La Crosse and other cities to have a police and fire commission.

“How can a civilian oversight board overrule the police and fire commission, if that is the goal of this subcommittee, or ad hoc study committee?” asks Richmond.

Kruse says the study group may decide that an oversight panel isn’t needed.         

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.