La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron wants to change your first impression of seeing a police officer.
"We are members of the Coulee Region, just like all of you," he said while talking to the members of the North La Crosse Business Association (NLBA) at their June meeting. Kudron spoke alongside Neighborhood Resource Officers (NROs) Trent Bowe & Michael Vo, who attend every NLBA meeting. The two officers interact with the Lower Northside Depot neighborhood. "When I go home at night, I try to figure out what to make for dinner for my kids ... we're people just like you. This is just our job," Kudron said. There are ten NROs serving La Crosse.
"I won't minimize what is happening [nationally]," Kudron said, "But what our guys are doing here 99.9% of the time is not tragic, it's what this community needs." Sometimes those needs are as simple as finding a kid a better pair of shoes, thanks to Trinity church.
Kudron says here's how you help:
- Be intentional interacting. Accept officers "with open arms". Invite them in. Say hello. Get to know them. Coming out of the pandemic is an opportunity to build relationships in a way police haven't been able to before.
- Tell them how they can serve you better. The police see themselves as problem solvers. "We can build [a relationship] with you, with your company, with your employees, with your families, with your friends, so that we can build a stronger community," Kudron said. "Police officers are here to serve your needs, to serve you, to serve your neighbors -- not to be painted in a negative light ... because that's not reality."
- Be ready for them to engage with businesses more. The pandemic switched their focus. While they will always respond to accidents, domestic violence and [other calls], ... these guys are pretty excited about what can happen moving forward.
- Partner with them to strengthen the community. Officer Bowe said they are "kicking off a lot of partnerships" with the Boys & Girls Clubs, getting to know more kids to be proactive and preventative with juvenile crime. Officer Bowe said they partnered with Uptowne Cafe to provide meals.
- Connect to hire "second chance" individuals. Police can bring employees to you. Officer Bowe says if believes people are "turning a new leaf, we might be able to find them an entry-level position that may not have a lot of responsibility, but can get them back into the workforce.".
- Be vocal, don't handle minor incidences yourself. Officer Vo said whether it's unsheltered people, or lighting, even if it's something not urgent, call the NROs directly. Officer Vo says they want to get ahead of minor issues before they grow.
- Provide your after-hours contact information for when they respond after-hours, perhaps to your business.
- Register your video cameras. Not for them to control it, but for when an incident happens near your property (business or home), they can look at your video. Register it here >>
- Spread the Positive. Chief Kudron shared the story of Officer Graves who completed his last day serving as the Student Resource Officer (SRO) at Logan High School. Officer Graves' father was the first SRO at Logan. Officer Graves is now the last. When something positive happens, share it on Facebook. They are trying. Like their page >>.
- Be understanding when not all calls end in someone being arrested. Many officers are injured during physical confrontations. "We do what we can do reduce the likelihood of having to engage in any kind of physical force," Kudron said. "Sometimes that look slike we're being soft ... what we're trying is to look at the system and achieve the same results." Kudron said they want to approach situations smarter -- lowering the risk for the healthy and wellness of the officers that are serving us.
A business owner asked about homelessness. The chief said it is the number one issue they confront. For certain individuals they try to call the person's family members to help. They have placed individuals in apartments, but they are often the source of complaints from neighbors, making it difficult for landlords to continue to house them when faced with losing tenants. Chief Kudron believes everyone needs to be intentional about coming together and finding solutions.
CELL PHONE CONTACT INFO:
- Officer Trent Bowe: 507.312.9301
- Officer Michael Vo: 608.571.5007