La Crosse County may move emergency management position to Sheriff’s Office

When disaster strikes, dispatchers are the first to know.

And for decades La Crosse County has had the same people in charge of its emergency response.

“These two public servants have given us decades of public service to this community,” said La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson.

This year both Emergency Services Administrator Jay Loeffler and Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Butler announced their retirement.

The county board is moving forward with moving Butler’s position of helping coordinate how a county plans and reacts to emergencies from the dispatch center to the sheriff’s department.

“The 9-1-1 dispatch center, Jay Loeffler and his department are pretty thin on support staff and clerks,” added Johnson.

“Keith’s on his own. Having the sheriff’s department have more personnel available to help him, that’s a good thing,” explained Loeffler.

In addition to more help, the county hopes that moving Butler’s position will allow whoever fills Loeffler’s shoes to focus more on new technology coming to the center.

“We’re going into a next generation of 9-1-1 that would allow people to start texting and send videos,” said Loeffler.

“The new Jay Loeffler will be able to concentrate on making sure those transitions are smooth,” added Johnson.

The county hopes the move to the sheriff’s department will make it easier for the new hires, but knows it’s going to be hard to say good bye.

“We are losing a tremendous amount of knowledge, professionalism,” expressed Johnson.

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