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La Crosse police, health experts ride together as Co-Responders

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A traditional police response to trouble in a city like La Crosse is not always the most effective way to resolve the situation.

That’s one reason why the police department and the La Crosse County Human Services have begun a partnership in what they call a ‘Co-Responder’ program, teaming officers with trained mental health counselors on certain calls.

La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron looks at the program as a logical next step in law enforcement for the community.

“It’s really coming together, understanding where the need is, understanding where the challenges are, and then how we do this together to bring the best response possible,” Kudron said Monday during a press conference.

The Community Resource Unit program has the approval of La Crosse County Board chair Monica Kruse. She said the community cannot arrest its way out of mental illness. Kruse hopes that the partnership will serve as an example for other counties to try.

The unit began operations earlier this month.

Police Captain Avrie Schott said the program pairs an officer and mental health professional on a traditional call, where a traditional police response might not be suitable.

“Responding to active calls, when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, riding side-by-side in a squad car together, developing pro-active interventions for frequent contacts,” are some advantages of the program, according to Police Captain Avrie Schott said.

She hopes that if the partnership works well for the first few months, the Co-Responder program can be expanded a year from now.

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.