Officers told to disarm in court during La Crosse jury trial

Police Department worries safety may be sacrificed

Justice officials are at odds with each other after a La Crosse County judge ordered police officers to disarm while testifying in court.

La Crosse County Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez ordered three officers to remove their weapons and duty belts while in the courtroom Tuesday. The officers were testifying in the jury trial of a man charged with threatening to kill an officer, among other charges.

According to the police department, officers have testified many times in the last five years with their firearms holstered and never had an issue, and the way Judge Gonzalez told the officers to remove their firearms and duty belts concerned many in the department.

“There’s a variety of other methods this could have been addressed, but to have our officers disarm in a trial, and right in front of the open courts, seemed less than the ideal time or format for addressing this concern,” said La Crosse Police Department Captain Jason Melby.

The La Crosse Police Department also says a discussion has been started with Judge Gonzalez to correct any issues either group may have with the current policy.

We have reached out to Judge Gonzalez but have not heard back.