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Guide to the La Crosse, Wisconsin, Committee on Police, Resolutions and Reports Relating to Police, 1860-1932 La Crosse Series 002

Guide to the La Crosse, Wisconsin, Committee on Police, Resolutions and Reports Relating to Police, 1860-1932

La Crosse Series 002

Summary Information

Common Council resolutions & reports relating to the Police Department, 1860-1932. The materials are roughly separated into subject series: petitions, reports, law enforcement, financial, prisoner, secret service, buildings and equipment, and personnel.
Collection Title
La Crosse, Wisconsin, Committee on Police, Resolutions and Reports Relating to Police
Date of Materials
La Crosse (Wis.). Committee on Police.
Call Number
La Crosse Series 002
1.2 cubic feet
Physical Description
3 archives boxes
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], La Crosse, Wisconsin, Committee on Police, Resolutions and Reports Relating to Police, La Crosse Series 002, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

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Historical Note

Common Council resolutions and reports began to be organized by a numbering system in Dec. 1932. Before that time the resolutions were kept folded up in chronological order, roughly by subject or Council committee (such as Parks, Judiciary, Fire, Police, etc.). This set of pre-1932 resolutions represents those labeled as the Police Department.

At the time La Crosse was incorporated as a city in 1856, there was no organized police department. As the city grew, its system of daytime marshals and night watchmen became inadequate to protect the residents. By 1868 La Crosse had acquired a reputation as a wild Mississippi River town and rail center. As a result, in that same year, a group of influential citizens petitioned for a regular full-time police force under a police chief, but the Common Council denied their requests. Finally on April 12, 1870, newly-elected Mayor Theodore Rodolf, fulfilling campaign promises, appointed John Simonton as La Crosse's first paid police chief.

The office of police chief was at first a political appointment, and the individual selected would often change with each new mayor. The Common Council also maintained control over the police department by controlling salaries and other expenditures. In 1897 the formation of the Police and Fire Commission allowed the police department to loosen some of its political ties with the Common Council.

With the advent of automobiles, a separate traffic division was organized to enforce traffic laws and direct traffic. The police department also directed the ambulance service. During the 1960s and 1970s, the police department was surrounded by a great deal of controversy, and undertook a number of investigations and studies.

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Scope and Contents

The documents consist of petitions, reports and resolutions to and from the Common Council covering the years 1860-1932. With the exception of petitions and law-enforcement resolutions, most of the papers concern financial requests and reports. The petitions include the original request for a regular police force in 1868. The law-enforcement resolutions are instructions to the police on enforcing the laws and ordinances. Financial resolutions concern payment of miscellaneous bills. Prisoner resolutions contain names of prisoners as well as bills for their board.

Secret service resolutions deal with money for the police chief's discretionary account. Building and equipment resolutions answer requests to maintain and improve police services. Vehicle resolutions permit major purchases of motorcycles or cars. Personnel resolutions contain lists of police officers, their salaries, accidents, discipline, and other concerns.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 1988-1990

800 Main St.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601
(608) 789-7136

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

(Accession no. 1982.011) Donated by Aubrey Kroner, La Crosse City Clerk, 1982 September

Processing Information

Processed by Amy Groskopf, May 1988, and Nancy Steinhoff, Aug. 1990

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Related Materials

Related Materials

(La Crosse Series 003)
 La Crosse, Wisconsin, La Crosse Police Department Records
(La Crosse Series 022)
 La Crosse, Wisconsin, Office of the City Clerk, Reports of City Officers

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • La Crosse (Wis.). Committee on Police.
  • La Crosse (Wis.). Common Council.


  • Law enforcement--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Municipal government--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Police--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Public records--Wisconsin--La Crosse

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OCLC Number


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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Petitions, resolutions, reports, 1860-1870 

1 1

Reports, 1871-1923 

1 2

Petitions, 1874-1920 

1 3-4

Law enforcement resolutions, 1870-1929 

1 5-7

Financial resolutions, 1870-1914 

1 8-10

Prisoner resolutions and reports, 1870-1907 

1 11-14

Secret service resolutions, 1870-1910 

2 1-6

Building and equipment resolutions, 1871-1932 

2 7-11

Personnel resolutions, 1870-1928