LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - A dispute is heating up within La Crosse County law enforcement and legal community over the treatment of those arrested for crimes.
On one side is the police department, on the other are the circuit court judges.
Earlier this week police Chief Ron Tischer issued a news release expressing concern and frustration over the judges decisions to set bond at a low enough level that criminals who endanger public safety are soon back onto the streets.
Tischer wrote, "too often our department spends weeks or months developing a case...make a great arrest of a drug dealer and they are back out on the street within 24 hours...."
In response....Judge Scott Horne wrote a response on behalf of the circuit court judges..
Its in the form of a letter to Mayor Tim Kabat, who this week expressed his endorsement of the Chief's comments...
Horne's letter reads in part, "...we are writing to help improve your understanding of the purpose of setting bail and the role a judge is required to play in setting bond. Every accused person is entitled, under the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions to reasonable bail..
"... The purpose of bail is to ensure appearance in court, it is not the purpose of bail to punish someone before a case has been heard. Judges do not have the option to ignore these rights.
We have been far from reluctant to incarcerate offenders when circumstances warrant."
Horne also points out that opening a new pod in the La Crosse County Jail to handle more inmates as Chief Tischer has proposed, "would pose and additional cost to La Crosse County taxpayers..."
In a strongly worded caution to the mayor, Horne writes that "...public officials should serve to educate and inform....not misinform and misrepresent..."
He concludes by writing that "..we are more than willing to meet with you, the chief or any other interested parties. The foundation for such a meeting must rest on mutual respect and an accurate understanding of the facts."