City of La Crosse completes $6M radio communication upgrade

A new year is bringing new technology to La Crosse’s Police Department.

The department switched to a new digital radio system. The $6 million system went live Tuesday for all city agencies.

It replaces the old analog system which was more than 20 years old and only had coverage for about 70 percent of the city.

Each officer will now have their own radio unit instead of rotating between other officers, which caused shortages for police on duty during larger events.

The department’s assistant chief says the new system is an investment in their officer’s safety. 

“We would have festivals,  such as Oktoberfest, we didn’t have enough radios for our officers. When we had our tornado, we had officers operating on their personal cell phones trying to communicate with us because we didn’t have enough units,” said Asst. Chief Rob Abraham.

Along with the radio system, police are also getting help keeping an eye on La Crosse’s downtown.

Each day more and more downtown cameras from the Safe-Cam Project are being turned on.

They will be used by police to review footage when needed. And while they’re not monitored 24-7, police say they are a great deterrent for criminals.

“We want the camera system to be an overt system when they’re in the downtown area that there is this level of safety down there to provide the perception that things are being monitored,” said Abraham.

The cameras are a part of the La Crosse City Vision Foundation’s Safe-Cam project, which was paid for by private donations.