Tribune editorial board: Teamwork is crucial to fight gun crimes
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OUR VIEW

Tribune editorial board: Teamwork is crucial to fight gun crimes

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Our safe community is facing an unsafe trend.

La Crosse police officers are having to seize more and more weapons — especially from people who shouldn’t be carrying them.

And we’re seeing too many incidents of people treating police and emergency personnel with obvious hostility and violence.

There’s absolutely no excuse for it.

Tribune reporter Jourdan Vian documented in our Dec. 1 edition that La Crosse seized 49 firearms that were used in a crime as evidence in 2018 — an increase from 39 in 2012, for example.

And, police received 13 reports of shots fired in 2018 — up from seven in 2012.

The most frightening example of gun violence was the shooting of a La Crosse police officer during an August domestic dispute — the first La Crosse officer shot in 30 years.

Luckily, the officer survived and the suspect awaits trial.

But it was a frightening scene in the middle of a central La Crosse neighborhood — and it could have been more tragic.

As Police Chief Shawn Kudron says: “This is not what should be happening in the La Crosse community, and this is not what our officers should be facing. This needs to stop.”

Police in our area are using teamwork to help crack down on the problem.

The La Crosse County District Attorney has made gun cases a priority, and District Attorney Tim Gruenke says both victims and the community become more fearful when guns are involved.

Gruenke encourages gun owners to lock up their weapons to prevent burglars from taking them.

In addition, police in our region are working with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Justice Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods to help reduce gun-related crime.

Just last week, an Onalaska man was indicted on federal charges of felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, accusing him with possessing a .40-caliber pistol and ammunition.

While gun crime is our biggest concern, we’re also concerned with boorish behavior toward law enforcement and emergency personnel.

In the past few days, a La Crosse police officer was slapped in the face while trying to confront a man downtown.

And it’s not just police who face abusive behavior.

Officials with the Galesville Area Volunteer Fire Department say their crews were directing traffic at an crash scene recently — wearing reflective gear and holding stop signs — when they faced abusive behavior, swearing, even a car that swerved toward a volunteer.

Whether paid by taxpayers or serving as community volunteers, the emergency personnel who risk their own safety to protect us deserve respect — and then some.

There’s no excuse for them to face anything but our admiration and respect.

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