La Crosse police tackle growing trend of drug and gun crimes in 2019

La Crosse PD
La Crosse Police officials take a look back at a busy 2019.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – La Crosse Police say 2019 produced concerns officials want to fix, gun and drug crime. Police Chief Shawn Kudron says an incident in August taught the department a lot of lessons.

La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron said adapting to change has been the challenge for the department over the past year. Kudron was named chief of police after former Chief Ron Tischer left for Arizona in July.

“I’m coming into three months, getting close to three months,” Kudron said. “Not only do we have talented employees here but we are transitioning different people into new roles,” Kudron said.

About a week after Tischer left, the department responded to a call that put this group of men and women to the test.

“That’s just the type of call you never want to get and never want to have to respond to,” Kudron said.

A domestic incident brought Officer Dustin Darling to a home on 9th Street South involving Allen Kruk of La Crosse. Kruk had a felony warrant out for his arrest and when Darling arrived Kruk pulled out a handgun.

Shots were fired by Kruk and Darling. Darling was hit in the chest and survived thanks to his bulletproof vest. Kudron said it helped his staff deal with a growing problem.

“It really highlighted gun crime and the increasing gun crime in our community and how we as a police department are evolving to really address the gun crime,” Kudron said.

He said drug-related crimes are also on the rise.

“Those have been the trends that have been concerning to us,” he said.

After hiring a crime analyst, Kudron said his department is in a better position to fix those problems.

“Having somebody dedicated to digging into numbers, information and being able to have information to support our staff who are out on the street in real-time has been a tremendous benefit to our agency,” Kudron said.

He said those resources will continue to help the department in 2020. The La Crosse Police Department added neighborhood resource officers to the Powell-Poage-Hamilton neighborhood this year. That was possible through a partnership with Gundersen Health System. Officials say they are happy with the NRO program’s growth.

La Crosse Police Officials say school resource officers are continuing to provide role models and safety for children in the community.

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