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Police frustrated after drug dealer arrested twice in 3 days

Shawn Welch arrested on multiple counts

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The arrest of the same drug dealer twice in the span of three days has the La Crosse Police Department frustrated.

Shawn Welch, 21, was arrested Jan. 14th on multiple counts of delivering crack cocaine and ecstasy.  He appeared in court later that day and, despite the D.A.'s calls for a high cash bond, was released on a $1,000 cash bond.

Three days later, Welch, was arrested again, this time for additional charges of delivery and possession of cocaine.

Later in the day on Tuesday, the La Crosse Police Department released a second document, this one contained information about a stalker who was arrested a second time after being released.

Austin J. Novak was arrested Jan. 16th for stalking (a felony) and disorderly conduct charges. Novak made his initial court appearance on Jan. 17th and   was released on a $5,000 signature bond.  Less than 24 hours after Novak's release, he was seen at the victim's apartment and was arrested again.

Although both of the incidents are completely different, Capt. Robert Lawrence with the La Crosse Police Department said they both highlight the same problem.

"There has been somewhat of a revolving door of perpetrators who would be arrested for some serious and significant crimes and then released shortly after," said Lawrence.


In a statement released on Tuesday, the police department says the two arrests are a community safety issue. 

 "As the Chief of Police for the City of La Crosse," says Chief Ron Tischer, "I am again expressing my growing concern in reference to public safety and the lack of accountability being afforded those criminals who endanger the citizens of the City of La Crosse."

The La Crosse Police Department is worried the lack of severe consequences for criminal offenders will increase criminal activity in the area.

"It is almost an environment that invites people to come to our city and perpetrate a crime if there are no consequences or few consequences," said Lawrence.

Chief Tischer's statement went on to say, "Too often our department spends weeks or months developing a case, makes a great arrest of a drug dealer and they are back out on the street within 24 hours."

"It's disheartening when the police department can spend hundreds and hundreds of hours investigating significant crimes against our community and to have them repeatedly go unchecked with virtually little consequences," said Lawrence.

Lawrence understands that you can't put every person in jail for every violation.

"However, some of the people who are more detrimental to our community, drug dealers, people who are violent offenders and people who pose a risk, should be looked at in a different light and should be held accountable," said Lawrence.

If the documents have no impact on the judicial system, at least it will start a conversation within the community.

"Unless we really start having a dialogue about what is going on, I don't know how you begin to fix it," said Lawrence.

News 8 reached out to several La Crosse County judges and the district attorney for comment on the press releases, but they didn't want to comment or were unavailable.

The suspect in the drug case is currently being held without bond, the suspect in the stalking case was released on Tuesday on a signature bond.

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