La Crosse Judge Disarms Officers Testifying in Courtroom

Police Chief calls the policy a "serious safety issue"

The police chief in La Crosse says a county judge compromised courtroom safety when she told officers testifying in a police battery case to come to the trial unarmed.

La Crosse County Circuit Judge, Ramona Gonzalez, told three officers testifying in Mark Topness’ trial Tuesday they could not wear their firearms or duty belts in the courtroom.

The La Crosse Tribune reports Gonzalez says her policy, enforced during jury trials, allows officers to testify without the distraction of their guns. The judge says a gun visible to jurors could be grounds for an appeal.

State Supreme Court rules allow judges to make that policy individually and on a case-by-case basis. Police Chief, Ron Tischer says stripping an officer of a gun is a serious safety issue in an emotionally-charged courtroom that could be prone to violence.