News 8 Investigates: Police Dept. responds to Western conduct investigation report
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The La Crosse Police Department is not ready to send recruits back to Western Technical College. The former police chief had stopped sending them to the college after an instructor allegedly made negative comments for years about the department, sometimes to students.
The investigation by two outside agencies and Western Technical College staff found six allegations against the instructor. La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron says officers came forward out of concern for the police department, based on what they were hearing.
“Certainly, the entire situation was unfortunate,” Kudron said.
However, a report released late last week found that the allegations were largely rumors. Kudron says investigating an employee is not easy for any institution, and the department is thankful that Western Technical College looked into all the information.
“Our goals moving forward, are really to make sure that our police recruits are receiving the best education possible,” Kudron said.
Kudron’s predecessor, then-chief Ron Tischer, decided to stop sending recruits to Western over the alleged comments. Instead, they have been sent to Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, which News 8 found cost state taxpayers $5,000 for each recruit sent out of the area.
While the report found that most of these allegations could not be substantiated or were in private conversations, the department is not rushing to send recruits back to Western.
“We’re really assessing all of our options,” Kudron said.
After the report was released, Western’s president said he wanted to work with the department to mend the relationship. Now that the police department has had time to review this report, Kudron said at this point it’s a bit of a ‘wait and see.’ He said he needs to ensure that he can have full confidence in employees getting the best experience at Western.
“We’re assessing what we can do as an agency to ensure that our employees are getting the best education possible,” Kudron said.
He hopes to build and maintain a strong working relationship with Western Technical College.
“Both the Police Department and the technical college are both long-standing institutions in the community. We have mutual goals of wanting the La Crosse community to be the best place it can be,” Kudron said.
Kudron said he intends to work with Western Technical College President Roger Stanford to rebuild that relationship.
“It is a process, and it’s a process I intend to work hard at,” he added.
The instructor who had allegedly made the comments mentioned in the report still works for Western Technical College. At one point the instructor was on leave while this was being investigated, but that instructor is back at work, according to the college.
In response to the police chief’s comments, Stanford reiterated that he had great respect for the police department and Kudron, and that the two groups will continue to be strong partners in the community.
“I welcome the opportunity to speak with the chief about ways we can strengthen our relationship, including sending its recruits back to Western’s Law Enforcement Academy,” said Stanford, in a statement to News 8.
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