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La Crosse Police Chief Kudron discusses Community Resource Unit, which will be on display for state Thursday

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A relatively new unit within the La Crosse Police Department that’s been working this past year will be on display for the state Thursday.

The Community Resource Unit (CRU) will be featured at 1:30 p.m. as part of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities yearly conference, which is held this time around at the La Crosse Center. 

The CRU is basically a combination of a La Crosse Police investigator and a member of La Crosse County’s crisis management team, responding to certain calls that would require an expert in dealing with dilemmas surrounding mental health.

Police Chief Shawn Kudron was on La Crosse Talk PM to talk Wednesday about the ins and outs of the CRU, including how it got started. 

At 21:50 into the show, La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron joins.

“We’ve started this somewhat as a pilot program and found very early on that there was a great need for this and we’re showing success,” Kudron said. “And we continue to work with service organizations, work with people, work with consumers who are experiencing mental health crisis, and try to connect them with the proper services to reduce those crisis calls for service.”

Kudron, who has been police chief just over three years, said creating this unit was years in the making, dating back to when he was on the investigative team within the department.

“We had been dealing with certain situations,” Kudron said. “I had been reviewing reports in my previous position and we had been responding to a similar type of call that was very high priority and dangerous, and it had a mental health nexus. 

“And as I reviewed those reports, I knew that there was something better that we could do, discuss this with our staff, and it took a few years, but we finally got to a place where we were able to dedicate some of our police employees to do this work, along with continually building this relationship with La Crosse crisis.”

The agenda for the CRU at the League of Wisconsin Municipalities conference Thursday at the La Crosse Center.

Since the CRU got started in July of 2021, it has taken 1,465 calls. Right now, there are two CRUs within the department. The hope is to add at least one more soon, if the funding can be secured.

“This is where our elected officials have an opportunity to support these types of grants and support agencies that apply for and are awarded these grants so that we can do this work,” Kudron said.

While the CRU clearly helps a focused area of the population that is dealing with mental health, it is also lessening the burden of law enforcement.

“Because these calls can take time and sometimes the best result occurs when you can take time with individuals and, really just figure out the core reasons for why they’re in crisis,” Kudron said. “And our officers, at times, don’t always have the ability to dedicate a greater amount of time. This unit does.and that has definitely assisted in finding successful conclusions for consumers in our community.”

A big part of the CRU isn’t just the initial call, Kudron noted.

“With having our co-responder, we are getting kind of the best service, quicker, on scene right away to assess what the issues are, to identify the triggers in that person’s life, and then to come up with the correct safety plan around that,” he said. “And then again, not only just doing that at that one time, but then following up days later to make sure that the right resources are connected with that individual.”

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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  1. Brian Sullivan

    October 20, 2022 at 6:15 am

    This (CRU) is such a wonderful idea, to help those in need with compassion and to try to get them the assistance they need, most likely at a time when their world is falling apart. I wish for every success in the execution of this effort and hope the community will support it. But there’s another reason I write and for me it’s just a small irritation about a word … consumer. It’s been around forever and I’ve seen the word used consistently a number of years ago from the corporate world where the “producers” used the term for those they wished to sell to, i.e. “consumer”. Perhaps it was an appropriate use of the term in that context, but it did grate a bit. What I’d like to encourage is to find a better description (word) to describe the populace that the police deal with. “Consumer” just doesn’t sound right especially when we are talking about people helping people. It sort of comes across as “providers” helping “consumers”, and this seems like it just doesn’t provide the right context for an effort as noble as this one should be. Again, love the concept of the CRU, and hope for much success.

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