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The La Crosse Police Department will continue to send its recruits to Chippewa Valley Technical College, rather than Western Technical College, after Chief Ron Tischer said he caught wind of a Western instructor accusing his department of racism.

“Chief Tischer is frustrated and disappointed that there has been no resolution. Additionally, it was not until the PFC asked questions about the issue that Western seemed to start following through with their investigation,” said Captain Jason Melby Tuesday in a statement on behalf of the department.

Melby noted that the investigator contacted La Crosse PD staff for interviews after the Police and Fire Commission asked for an update Thursday.

FILE -- Ron Tischer

Tischer

The department has sent its recruits to Chippewa Valley for training since last fall, which costs the Wisconsin Department of Justice about $15,000 per person, including both the $5,000 for training and room and board for the 17-week program. Previously, it sent its recruits to Western’s Sparta facility.

The chief said he couldn’t justify sending his people to a program where an instructor disparages his department.

“If they’re not going to change things, if they don’t have the guts, the moral courage to do what’s right, then we can’t send our officers to Western Tech,” Tischer said.

FILE -- Roger Stanford mug

Stanford

Western President Roger Stanford said Tuesday that the technical college took the allegation very seriously, and he values the college’s relationships with local law enforcement and fire departments.

The college conducts training not just for new recruits from La Crosse, but for officers and firefighters throughout the area.

“I want nothing better than us to have a strong relationship with the La Crosse Police Department,” Stanford said, adding, “I don’t want to argue because I think their work is so important, and I really think highly of them.”

The allegations are under investigation by a third-party contractor, who is working to sort fact from fiction in the case, he said.

“This employee deserves due process and they deserve a full investigation to the best of our ability,” Stanford said.

Once the investigation is complete, the college has a policy in place to determine its response, and it will share the results with the department and the public.

“We’ll release what we’re able and what’s responsible to release,” Stanford said.

Tischer first raised the concern with Stanford in August of last year, writing him an email sharing concerns and rumors that a Western instructor said the department was “full of racists” and telling people not to work there.

“As you can imagine, I am outraged at this comment,” Tischer wrote in the Aug. 13 email. “The La Crosse Police Department does more than any other police department in the state to attract and hire a diverse workforce.”

He added that the department does more training on fair and impartial policing, implicit bias and cultural diversity than any other department he knows of.

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Tischer told Western, “If this instructor(s) worked for me, they would be out of a job.”

In response to Tischer’s complaint last year, Western conducted an internal investigation and organized a meeting with Tischer, a representative from the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Western employees Oct. 19 to discuss the findings.

In a follow-up email to Western’s human resources director, Tischer accused an instructor of retaliating against a La Crosse officer and Western of not taking the department’s complaint seriously.

“I’m not sure if you have spoken to anyone else, but the former instructors that are employees of the La Crosse Police Department have not been contacted, nor have you contacted any of us to facilitate those interviews,” Tischer wrote.

Tischer responded by demanding Western delete La Crosse Police Department employee email addresses from its database and remove him from the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee.

He further determined to send La Crosse police recruits to the Chippewa Valley Technical College, rather than Western.

The additional allegations lead the college to hiring a consultant in November 2018 to more thoroughly investigate.

“The chief added a couple elements later, which really made me feel comfortable saying we should really have a third party look at,” Stanford said.

Tischer told the Police and Fire Commission last week that Western’s response was “disheartening.”

“We have to send our recruits to a different recruit academy because Western Tech won’t do the right thing,” Tischer said.

“The president of Western tech needs to take care of his personnel problems,” Tischer said.

Tischer criticized the time it has taken Western to investigate the allegations.

“The police department, as you know, has done a lot of internal investigations, a lot of very messy, ugly internal investigations — none of which take a year to do,” Tischer said.

Tischer was vague on the details, but said, “If employees of the La Crosse Police Department do things that employees of other agencies are doing, they don’t work here anymore.”

A former officer sued the department in 2016, accusing it of race discrimination and retaliation. The suit was settled out of court with the city denying any wrongdoing.

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Jourdan Vian can be reached at jvian@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.

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City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

(27) comments

Rick Czeczok

Someone heard something and told someone what he thought he heard, and it's somehow news. Great job tribune writers. Who even says this is news?

Cassandra2

You know it's bad when someone inside the training of police calls them out for their racism.

Climatehoax

The instructor is probably a liberal and we all know they don’t know the meaning of racist. Everyone who disagrees with them is labeled a racist.

capedcrusader

And you have never learned the meaning of liberal so tell us something new. You also don't know the difference between weather and climate.

Cassandra2

Speaking of racists, here comes the Hoaxer to spread his own vile brand of hate and misinformation.

Fer Petes Sakes

You are one negative and bitter person. I have yet to see you post a positive response on any article. Does your life suck so much that all you look forward to is sniping on a newspapers website? I hope that you have no children or grandchildren.

Fer Petes Sakes

This comment was directed to Cassandra2

Jobaba

Sounds like what you are doing.

capedcrusader

And who are you newbie?

Jobaba

Lol! Yer daddy, youngster.

capedcrusader

Jobaba - my comment was for the newbie. You aren't a newbie.

Cassandra2

Nice fake profile, Pete. You clearly don't look very closely at my comments.

capedcrusader

Yep. Another phony.

rjunebug

Maybe the Chief ought to open an investigation to see if there is any truth to the claim that there are any racists on his police force. Sometimes the truth is very hard to swallow for an ego that runs the department. I am not saying there are racists on the force, but maybe that should be the investigation that is started also.

Cassandra2

Good point, Junebug. They seem more concerned about retaliating or just ignoring the allegations by moving elsewhere. And having that prior settlement doesn't clear the air at all.

Berks

I will miss Tischer. Dude has big brass ones. The LCPD is an government entity that has done a great job. WWTC has scarfed up tens of millions for new projects in recent years with mixed results. The LCPD's track record yields more credibility than WWTC's.

Cassandra2

Berks, please explain what your comment has to do with the facts of the case.

capedcrusader

Doubt he can...

Jobaba

Moral courage. It's what's for breakfast.

Climatehoax

Good for the chief, people throw the racist word around when they are on the losing end of an interaction with someone they disagree with, the word had almost become meaningless

capedcrusader

And you don't know what a liberal is.

logical thinker

Sorry for the misspelling: Tischer.

logical thinker

So there is a rumor that Tischler "heard" that an instructor, not necessarily in the program that trains police officers but we don't know from the article, was disparaging the LaX police force about being racist, and since the investigation is too slow for him, Tischler has decided to spend $10000 extra per officer for room and board (I assume it would cost the same $5000 for the training at WTC) using tax dollars. Did I miss anything?

SophiaBelle

Did you miss this paragraph? "The chief said he couldn’t justify sending his people to a program where an instructor disparages his department." That pretty much tells you the instructor is in the program. And I really don't think Tischer or the LCPD would be so petty as to go after something he "heard". Verbiage used for an article. The PFC went after this and I don't think Western would have opened an investigation if it didn't think it was more than something Tischer had just " heard". Let's not be petty, all right?

logical thinker

I know not much about any of this outside of the story, and sadly, there is a lot of hurt feelings and whatnot these days, so one never knows. I will take your word and hope that you are correct.

Cassandra2

So rather than deal with the allegations of a trained instructor they decide to ignore it and move to a program where the alleged racism will be tolerated. Did I get that right?

capedcrusader

Apparently so.

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