La Crosse County supervisors appoint 18 to Study Committee on Policing

Police Badge
(Associated Press File Image)

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The La Crosse County Board of Supervisors approved 18 appointees to the long-discussed and sometimes controversial Study Committee on Policing Thursday.

Six members of the 29-member county board voted against the appointments — mostly because they dispute the need for such a committee or questioned the makeup of the group.

Debate over whether to form such a committee traces in part to national unrest over a police officer’s slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 and deaths of other people of color at the hands of police. Those, in turn, sparked several demonstrations in La Crosse during the past year and a half.

Former County Board Chairwoman Tara Johnson will head the study committee, which includes representatives from law enforcement, attorneys, victim advocates, educators and other segments of the population.

Supervisor Dan Ferries wondered why no retirees or farmers were nominated. Supervisor Dawn Wacek countered that the board’s intent in a resolution to form the panel in November was to include people disproportionately affected by police action and monitor activities.

Supervisor Pamela Viner questioned the lack of Asian representation when people of Asian descent account for 5% of the county’s population.

Board Chairwoman Monica Kruse, who was on the five-member recruitment committee for the group, said members invited several people with Asian heritage to join, but several said they felt “it would be unsafe for them to participate.”

Supervisor John Pogreba challenged forming the committee when the board has not seen results of a survey about such an action.

“I heard over 70% of the respondents did not believe it is needed,” he said. “I think we’ve been deceived.”
Kruse responded that the board did not generate the survey, which she hasn’t seen, adding, “We don’t set policy by survey.”

Appointed to the study committee besides Johnson were:
• UWL professor Laura Abellera, a consultant/educator with Social Responsibility Speaks and a member of the steering committee of the Waking Up White Collaborative
• Onalaska Police Chief Chuck Ashbeck
• Attorney Keith Belzer
• Attorney Luis Delgado
• Amanda Goodenough, a consultant and member of Greater La Crosse Area Diversity Council
• Henry Greengrass, youth center director of the Ho-Chunk Nation in La Crosse
• Attorney Thom Huh
• Municipal Court Judge Mark Huesmann
• Lisa Kruse, an associate professor in the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department at UWL
• La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron
• Jonathan Locust, associate vice president of equity and inclusive excellence at Winona State University
• Vincent Loera, a member of the La Crosse Criminal Justice Management Council and a former child welfare worker for La Crosse County
• UWL student Hailey Polk
• Andrew Rasmussen, community activist with BLACK and a member of the Criminal Justice Management Council
• Victim advocate Heidi Svee, a member of the Criminal Justice Management Council
• Attorney Joe Veenstra
• La Crosse County Sheriff Jeff Wolf.

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