The former La Crosse police officer who pleaded guilty to stealing drugs from the department’s evidence room will spend time in jail.
A Monroe County judge sentenced Brian Thomson, 44, to three months in La Crosse County Jail, three months under house arrest and three years probation.
Police say Thomson tampered with 63 packages of illegal drugs and prescription pills and was caught stealing last August. He was arrested and resigned on the same day he confessed to stealing the pills. He also confessed to stealing other drugs.
Thomson's sentencing started with strong words from former colleague, "The La Crosse Police Department has had to reestablish trust with the community we serve, based on selfish actions of one individual, that being Brian Thomson," said Captain Shawn Kudron from the La Crosse Police Department. Capt. Kudron spoke for the prosecution, saying Thomson's actions hurt the department and put other criminal cases at risk. "Many criminal cases have been affected," said Kudron, "suspects that have preyed on the La Crosse community have received reduced sentences because evidence against them is now missing."
Some current officers spoke on Thomson's behalf, like Onalaska officer Jim Page, "Your honor, I'm going to miss Brian on the road," said Page. Officer Page came to Thomson's defense, saying the stress of the job led Thomson to drugs. "Unfortunately law enforcement, as the five of us can attest to, is not a profession that lends itself to showing any signs of a perceived weakness," says Page, "we are the problem solvers and the protectors and protectors, and we are to be impervious to the affects of this job." Page went on to say, "This job used Brian up, he's done."
But the prosecution says this case is more than just drugs. "Ironically this case really isn't about stealing drugs," says Jeff Gabrysik who was brought in to prosecute the case, "almost every speaker that has spoken has talked about, spoken about the betrayal of trust and it's really more than than anything else."
When it was Thomson's turn to talk, he said the time for apologies is over. "What I need to do and I've proven to myself now," says Thomson, "I need to show the community, show my family and show people what I can do, no more that I'm sorry, I've taken responsibility for what I've done your honor."
The judge felt at least some time behind bars was necessary mostly because the consequences of Thomson's actions could have been much worse. The Judge says there were times Thomson was high while on duty, which could have had terrible consequences.
The La Crosse Police Department says the incident tarnished the badges of all officers, but they are glad to have closure on the case. They say their policies on evidence packaging and storage is now more stringent, and new equipment has made the storage area more secure.