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County approves study of need for police board

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It took an hour of debate Monday night before the La Crosse County board made a decision on moving ahead with the idea of a police oversight committee or police board.

Board members said during the monthly meeting the people they represent are divided on the issue — either worried that they won’t get a voice in police matters or that opponents of police will have too much of a voice.

“What I don’t want is a police-bashing committee,” supervisor Jack Pogreba said. “And I don’t want people on a committee that want, all they’re doing is they had issues with the police in the past, and they want to get back to them.”

Other critics argue that the city of La Crosse already has a police and fire commission, which includes non-elected representatives. That commission, however, only looks into the city’s police department.

Tracy Littlejohn told the board during public comment that she seemed to be the only person of color in the room.

“None of you have probably had to fear (police),” Littlejohn said. “None of you have had to fear that your kid could get hurt.”

She said that she has to tell her son not to speed if he’s driving through certain areas, because of concerns about police harassment of residents.

In the end, the board voted 24-3 to authorize a study of local police practices.

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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