LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - - 2019 is just getting started, but the La Crosse Police Department already has big plans for what it's going to accomplish this year.
Capt. Jason Melby said the department has hired a crime analyst who will analyze data to help the department solve crimes starting on Monday.
"It'll be a new position for the agency we've never had a crime analyst before and the intentions of having a crime analyst is to be able to take the information that we have, the trends that we see in our crimes even if minor crimes and identify patterns to help us police more effectively in the community. So that is a very exciting new position that we look forward to seeing how we can really use it to benefit the agency," Melby said.
The department is also looking to ramp up security at the station.
"The La Crosse Police Department, the actual City Hall was built 40 something years ago. Things have changed. Law enforcement experiences across the country have been that there are attacks on officers and part of it is, one they aren't expecting it. Having a secure back parking ramp for our officers to pull into to park their squads in, to have all of that equipment and all of the information that's contained on those computers in a secure area when they aren't being used is important," Melby said.
In addition to increased security, the department wants to improve the physical and mental health of its officers.
"Happier, healthier employees are more productive employees. They're happier to come to work and they do better work for the cooperation or in our case the police department and the citizens of La Crosse. So making sure that there are adequate exercise facilities, making sure that the work schedule is actually something that works for our officers and reevaluating those situations," Melby said.
The department is also expecting some challenges in the year ahead.
"There is a level of uncertainty with our workload in law enforcement. Now obviously there's things we know we're going to be dealing with as we move ahead. We're still going to be dealing with drug use and property crimes associated with drug use but the thing with law enforcement is you never know really what is around that next corner. So the biggest challenge facing us...La Crosse Police Department may not know what that is yet,” Melby said.
Which is why they're hoping for the best but preparing for the worst by training their officers to deal with situations they may not have faced before.
"No community can ever predict whether they're going to have an active shooter situation in their community. However, we can train our officers to be prepared to deal with it," Melby said.
The department also plans to work with the district attorney’s office and local judges to help make the criminal justice system more efficient and effective.
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