(1/11/13) A private foundation in La Crosse plans to raise almost a half-million dollars so the Police Department can operate 41 surveillance cameras downtown.
The La Crosse City Vision Foundation came up with the idea, after downtown camera shop owner Paul Petras and his son were murdered in September. Officers made an arrest after reviewing hours of footage from security cameras put up by the downtown businesses. But Police Chief Ron Tischer said officers wasted a lot of time finding all the footage, verifying the accuracy of the dates-and-times listed on the videos, and converting all of it to a usable format. Tischer said if the police could get their own cameras, it would be much easier to track down the video evidence they need. Private donations would pay for the cameras, and the foundation wants enough money to add new cameras in the future without having to seek donations over-and-over again. There have been concerns that the police are setting up a "Big Brother" operation. But Tischer said officers won't have the time to constantly monitor the cameras – but they'll keep rolling, and producing evidence. And they'll be clearly marked, in the hopes that at least some crime will be prevented.