Another step Thursday in what has many names and but could be thought of, potentially, as a police oversight board being discussed in La Crosse County.
County Board chair Monica Kruse will present to the Judiciary and Law Committee at 3 p.m., a list of 18 people for a “Committee on Policing Membership.”
Among the names listed were at least three members of law enforcement in the county, including La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron, Onalaska Chief Charles Ashbeck and La Crosse County Sheriff Jeff Wolf. (Full list at bottom of story)
While the process is still in an infantile stage, one of the big questions with putting together such a board is whether it should include law enforcement at all.
That’s because one final version of the process would that this would be a “Citizens Police Oversight Board,” that would be completely independent or separated from law enforcement. But, again, the county has not determined any of that yet.
La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke spent some time Tuesday on WIZM discussing its creation, including having law enforcement included on this committee.
“I think the thinking was, to not have law enforcement on at this stage, would just result in a lot of confusion and misunderstandings, and they should be part of the planning if they’re going to be asked later to be subject to it,” Gruenke told the La Crosse Talk PM audience. “Just to make sure people have probably considered their concerns or maybe a little bit about how their system works to see what changes can be made or should be made.”
A study committee was approved on a 24-3 vote by the La Crosse County Board in early November. This list of 18 people appears to be the product of their work.
A timeline to finishing this process, however, does not appear to be in the near future.
“I don’t have a timeline but I would guess a long time to have a lot of moving parts together to iron out all the details of something like this,” Gruenke said. “I would think months if not close to a year but that’s just a guess on my part.”
It’s already been months and multiple committees just to get to this list. And, to get here, people on these committees have looked at how other communities have done police oversight. The City of Madison did something similar over a very long period of time, but Gruenke noted it was more expansive.
“It may have been even more than a year,” Gruenke said. “They had quite a process that involved more than just this (La Crosse’s plan). Their process involves other changes as well. So they were actually doing it for a couple of years but this board is one of the things that came out of their process.”
Whatever the next steps are for this list of 18 people, Gruenke has faith in the process.
“I’m not concerned, at this point, without knowing what they’re going to propose,” he said. “I would just be patient and wait to see what they come up with and see how it looks.
“It’s not something that they’ve got the authority to do anything on their own. … At some point, whatever they come up with — assuming they come up with some plan — would go in front of the County Board, the elected officials, where they could say, ‘This is no good,’ or ,’This is too tilted one way or the other,’ or everybody that was there agreed on it and it sounds great.”
Potential Committee on Policing Membership:
- Laura Abellera
- Chuck Ashbeck
- Keith Belzer
- Luis Delgado
- Amanda Goodenough
- Henry Greengrass
- Thom Huh
- Mark Huesmann
- Tara Johnson
- Lisa Kruse
- Shawn Kudron
- Jonathan Locust
- Vincent Loera
- Hailey Polk
- Andrew Rasmussen
- Heidi Svee
- Joe Veenstra
- Jeff Wolf