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Why the NNO means more this year in La Crosse

City has participated in National Night Out last 15 years

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Communities all around the country came together Tuesday night to fight back against crime. It was part of the annual National Night Out.

This year, however, people in the city of La Crosse may be taking the message more seriously than ever before.

That's because the city has had two homicides this year. There also continues to be a growing heroin problem as well as an uptick in other crime and violence.

"It is a wake up call and I hope it will wake up the neighbors all around the La Crosse area," said Lynn Dobyns.


Dobyns lives on Division Street, just one block from where 20-year-old Sara Hougom was shot to death in March. Police say the college student was the victim of a random attack inside her apartment.

"Incidents like that make everyone, including the police department, feel uneasy," said Interim Police Chief Rob Abraham.

Abraham says La Crosse is not immune to "big city" problems. Although, he says citizens can help the police fight against certain things like a growing number of heroin users and dealers.

"We can't be everywhere at once and we certainly wouldn't want a police force that would be everywhere at once from both a tax perspective and just an ordinary citizen's perspective. So, we need citizens who are involved," said Abraham.

"The police have asked us to record license plates if we see suspicious activity," said Dobyns.

She is one of about 30 people who participate in the Washburn Neighborhood Association. Dobyns says the group is helping keep crime out of their neighborhood.

"We record it and report and we've gotten rid of quite a few houses that were full of people who we didn't really want in the neighborhood," she said.

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