Maybe they need a go-between. That’s the latest idea being suggested for promoting greater trust between La Crosse area police and the public.
The county’s criminal justice council recommends having county supervisor Steve Doyle talk with law enforcement, to see if they would agree to having a citizen oversight board.
Heidi Svee serves on the justice council, and she argues that people who fear the police would not want them serving on an oversight committee.
“If there’s a committee that’s put together, with folks that are saying our community isn’t treated justly by the criminal justice (or) law enforcement, they’re not going to feel safe, or as though they have a voice if law enforcement are at the table,” said Svee.
Another council member, UWL professor Sutha Veerasamy compares the relationship between people of color and police to squirrels in a cage being asked to trust elephants.
“The elephants (tell) the squirrels, ‘We’re great people, we treat everyone equally,'” Veerasamy said. “That’s meaningless, and this is what I keep hearing from the police officers.”
Sheriff Jeff Wolf has said that law enforcement worries about being under attack from members of the public.
Wolf spoke with the justice council about the new “co-responders” program involving the county and the La Crosse police, saying Police Chief Shawn Kudron didn’t need an oversight committee to tell him the program was the right thing to do.