La Crosse Police stop training recruits at Western amid dispute

Investigation underway at Western Tech

At Thursday’s Police and Fire Commission Meeting, a serious issue that’s been brewing between the La Crosse Police Department and Western Technical College appeared to come to a boiling point.

This situation between Western Technical College and the La Crosse Police Department goes back to August of last year.

Through emails News 8 obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, La Crosse Police Chief Ron Tischer wrote to Western’s President Roger Stanford saying, “It’s been brought to my attention that an instructor with the Law Enforcement Academy has been telling students the La Crosse Police Department is “full of racists” and that “you shouldn’t work there.”

In that same email, Chief Tischer stated, “I had heard rumors that one or more of the law enforcement instructors were critical of our department and imposing their opinions on students. This “rumor” has recently been confirmed.”

Tischer ended his email with, “I implore you and your staff to investigate this matter and ensure us that this uneducated, unprofessional, ill-informed instructor immediately cease this activity.”

The dispute has caused the Chief to stop sending their new recruits to Western Technical College for police training.

Although the Chief himself was not doing interviews on this issue Thursday, Doug Happel a member of the Police and Fire Commission did have this to say, “There were some concerns, we understand it perhaps some personnel at Western that might have been affecting our recruitment. And that’s why some of our younger people are now taking their training up at Chippewa Valley rather than here. And the Commission’s concern is not specific to Western or anything else. But if there is anything that has a bearing on ability to attract qualified officers that’s why we’re concerned.”

According to other documents acquired by News 8, Western completed its own internal investigation into this matter in September of last year.

When asked for the results of that investigation, News 8 was told they’ve since started a new investigation into the same issue but have gone to an outside third party to look into it.

As far as what Western officials have to say about these overall accusations, this is the response to a News 8 email, “The contractor has not yet provided any findings, conclusions or other reports. Since this is a current investigation of potential misconduct of a College employee, we cannot release more information at this time.”

And finally, this conflict has implications for taxpayers too.

In this email Chief Tischer explained, “The state pays for room and board when we send people out of the area. The state also pays $5000.00 to each academy for each student. So WTC does not receive the $5000.00 and the state taxpayers are on the hook for the room and board for the 18 weeks of the academy.”

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