A La Crosse County judge ruled to shut down and board up a known drug house in the City of La Crosse.
On Friday, La Crosse County Judge Pasell ordered a temporary injunction on 214/216 24th Street South, two-story duplex owned by William J. Marshall, Jr. That means Marshall has to appear in front of the judge before he can regain his property.
“The La Crosse Police Department has seen an increase in complaints regarding drug dealing, drug using, a high volume of vehicles in the area, suspicious activities, and other nuisance activities, which negatively affect the quality of life of the residents of the City of La Crosse,” La Crosse Police Detective Lieutenant Matt Malott wrote in a Department memorandum.
Det. Lt. Malott said between April 5, 2012 and April 3, 2014, the La Crosse police were dispatched to that property 90 times for police service/incidents.
School officials at Blessed Sacrament Elementary School in La Crosse, which is located across the street from 214/216 24th Street South, said they’ve noticed an increase in suspicious activity and have made some changes to keep their students safe outside of the school. La Crosse police said school leaders have reported that parents and students have witnessed drug dealing and activity.
In a citizen complaint, a neighbor described several incidents that took place at 214/216 24th Street South.
"The effects of all this activity on our neighborhood has been very traumatic; syringes, as many as 3 at a time, can be found thrown every direction, kids on our block are restricted from going in the alley after school, and something needs to be done in the next few months to eradicate not only the activity but the tenants and hopefully the house itself,” a neighbor wrote in his complaint.
La Crosse police have made several arrests at the property and, after search warrants, have confiscated heroin and drug paraphernalia.
La Crosse police said they discussed the nuisance property at 214/216 24th Street South with Marshall but he has been uncooperative.
In January 2014, certified letters were sent to Marshall to inform him of the drug and other chronic nuisance activity on the property but police believe he was evading the several attempts to its service. A chronic nuisance could be anything from noise complaints to drugs. State statue recognizes it can be drug activity or gang-related activity.
Marshall signed the letter at the end of January for a meeting in mid-February, but did not show up and has not cooperated with the Police Department’s efforts to abate the nuisance.
"I am pleased the judge saw how serious this is when it comes to neighborhood livability and he did go ahead and issue that injunction,” said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.
This may be the first injunction of its kind in the city of La Crosse, but many hope it's not the last.
"We've got more work to do in the city and we are going to get after it,” said Kabat.
The Concerned Citizens for a Drug-free La Crosse organization has two goals in mind:
1) To eliminate the use, abuse and distribution of illegal drugs, and the crime that accompanies those activities, from our neighborhoods and surrounding areas.
2) To make La Crosse the "model" in Wisconsin in eradicating drug use and thereby reclaim our city as a safe and desirable place to live and raise a family.
If you would like more information about the organization or would like to join it, please email News 8's Brittany Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will forward your information to the contact person for the organization.