A La Crosse County committee to study local police activity is still trying to figure out its mission, nearly a year after being formed.
Members of the committee surveyed themselves about what goals the group might pursue. Committee chair Tara Johnson says members have been learning about police work, and there seems to be an interest in continuing the study.
“There is work to be done,” Johnson told the Study Committee on Policing at a meeting on Monday, the group’s first session since late October. “What we agreed to was to educate ourselves, and we have spent pretty much all of our time together” in what she called a “Policing 101 approach.”
At a meeting of the committee earlier this fall, District Attorney Tim Gruenke said that citizens should have a place to complain about problems with police, and that police should be informed of those complaints.
The county committee had its first meeting in April. Members say they are worried about offending others and speaking plainly about police problems, and some said they do not know much yet about other people serving on the panel. The 18-member group includes the county sheriff and the police chiefs of La Crosse and Onalaska, along with other citizens from the area.
Committee members expressed some concern about possible retaliation, but they also said the public wants more transparency about how the police operate.