La Crosse County (WI)

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Overall theory of operation

La Crosse County is primarily served by a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) operated by the Public Safety Communications Department, still called on-air by its old name, "EDC" (Emergency Dispatch Center).

Personnel there answer 911 and non-emergency phone calls and provide dispatch and other communications services to the Sheriff's Department, municipal police and fire departments and first responder units within the county.

Most radio work is done on the systems documented in the database -- the City of La Crosse operates on its own 800 MHz trunked radio system and resources elsewhere in the county primarily use VHF repeaters.

Telecommunicators can also access VHF Marine Band channels 9 and 16, the County Highway Department repeaters, and any talkgroup on the City of La Crosse TRS.

Computers installed in police squad cars can access some of the same electronic resources available at the dispatch consoles, including realtime dispatch information, reports (including mug shot photos), and vehicle/driver/criminal history information. This is used to augment voice communications for additional detail; officers can also change their own status, assign and put themselves en route to calls.

Other than through computer-delivered information or that relayed third-hand, officers on duty with agencies other than the City of La Crosse may have only the situational awareness of events unfolding within the city which they can glean from traffic on the 155.670 VHF patch of the PD MAIN talkgroup.

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse operates its own dispatch center and VHF repeater but coordinates by phone and radio on incidents requiring response from other agencies. As described in the unit numbering sections, Wisconsin State Patrol and Tri State Ambulance also operate within the county but primarily using their own dispatch centers and radio systems.

There are no other continuously operational PSAPs in the county. In case of PSAP failure, Monroe County will receive 911 calls and La Crosse County Emergency Services can operate its mobile command post from certain predetermined locations and take over 911 call answering service as well as much of the radio functionality that exists at the primary dispatch center.

Unit Numbering

La Crosse County, WI Unit Numbering System

1xx     County Sheriff, Dive Rescue
     101-149 belong to individual deputies and ranking officers

2xx     La Crosse City Police [Trunked Radio System]
     LCPD  no longer uses beat number assignments.  
     Officer radio ID's are now based on their badge number . 
     For example officer # 2492 (badge #49) is identified as 249.
     Civil service employees ( CSE , cadets) are identified as CSE 1-10.
     Police Reserves are "PR"

3xx     Onalaska City and Township
     301-349 City Police
     350-384 Fire (which serves the city, part of the Town of Onalaska, and all of Medary)
     385-399 Brice Prairie First Responders

4xx     Shelby Township 
     425-432 PD Officers
     450-469 Fire and First Responders (serving Shelby and Greenfield Townships)

5xx     Wisconsin State Patrol Post 5

Note: 5xx numbers are not used in the county plan for interoperability reasons. There
are 5xxx units as well (inspectors).  Routine State Patrol activities are conducted
on their own radio system but troopers do monitor county radio systems and work
primarily on Sheriff-1 through La Crosse County EDC sometimes when working major
incidents with multiple agencies responding. (DNR conservation officers also monitor
and answer calls from La Crosse County on Sheriff-1.)

6xx     West Salem Village
     601-649 Police 
     650-669 Fire Department (which serves the village and surrounding townships)
     670-699 First Responders - individual team members have their own numbers

7xx     Holmen Village

8xx     Bangor

9xx     Campbell Township (French Island)

11xx    Farmington Township

13xx    University of Wisconsin - La Crosse PD

19xx    County Service Processors

41xx    County Emergency Management 
     4101 Mobile Command Post (bus)

Within the blocks above, smaller municipalities' ranges are typically broken down as follows -- (This does not apply to City and County of La Crosse 100s and 200s)

  • x01-x49 are Police. Certain agencies assign numbers to individual officers (Onalaska, Sheriff, Shelby); others may use numbers based on vehicles.
  • x50s are Fire Department officers.
  • x60s are Fire Base stations (390 is Brice Prairie EMS base).
  • x61-x79 are assigned to specific fire apparatus.
  • x80-x99 First Responder units (particularly West Salem, Campbell, Brice Prairie)

Separation of services explains some of the numbering. For example, West Salem Fire and First Responders are completely separate entities. Brice Prairie First Responders serve an area of Onalaska Township covered in part by Onalaska City Fire and in part by Holmen Fire, and are distinct from either fire service. The numbering (and paging) reflects this. Shelby, on the other hand, is a combined service.

La Crosse Fire Department now uses designations like "Engine 1," "Quint 1," "Heavy Rescue," etc. This is probably good because there would otherwise be collisions with the Police who have taken the entire 200 series. There are still some numbers which seem to be historical references to the old numbering system still used throughout the rest of La Crosse County -- such as "Fire Base 60" (the Station 1 base) and "Car 57" (which is actually a pickup truck, not to be confused with a Fire truck).

More recently, some agencies have started using designators outside the numbering plan -- Campbell Engine 1, Farmington Rescue 6.

La Crosse County Fire/EMS Pager Tones

Agency / Updated
Tone A
Tone B
Holmen Fire (7/18) 154.205 600.9 669.9

Tri-State and Sparta Ambulance Radio Designators

Tri-State Ambulance provides Advanced Life Support to most of La Crosse County (as well as Vernon, Trempealeau, and some other areas) except some northeastern portions of the county which are primarily served by Sparta Ambulance. On a medical call, first responders and an ambulance are sent. Tri-State operates a dispatch center which provides Emergency Medical Dispatch (prearrival information gathering and instruction to caller) and coordinates trucks on their own radio system. Trucks may be assigned to posts as an act of "System Status Management" with the goal of resources being near predictive demand locations, but are primarily assigned to fixed locations. In extreme cases, such "System Status Management" may involve moving units from Sparta or Winona.

This numbering and communications protocol is separate of any county's numbering and protocol.

  • 216-219 Sparta
  • 301-312 Tri-State
  • 400's Tri-State special events
  • 500's Tri-State Supervisors

Common Law Enforcement Lingo/Shorthand

  • ATL = Attempt to Locate
  • Pro/Par = Probation/Parole
  • QPP = Query Probation/Parole (for a subject's Probation/Parole Status)
  • RO = Registered Owner
  • Chapter 51, 55, and just "Chapter" = hold for psych evaluation
  • 961 = controlled substance (based on state law Chapter 961)

Law Enforcement Call Disposition Codes (incomplete)

  • A Adam = Unfounded complaint
  • B Boy
  • C Charles
  • D David = Subject left area before arrival of police
  • E Edward = Peace restored
  • F Frank
  • G George
  • H Henry
  • I Ida = Municipal citation/summons issued
  • J John = Juvenile citation/referral
  • K King = Parking citation issued
  • L Lincoln = Arrest made
  • M Mary = Wrecker took vehicle
  • N Nora
  • O Ocean = Automatic alarm investigated
  • P Paul = Police service (other/catch-all)
  • Q Queen = community oriented policing detail?
  • R Robert = Report will be filed
  • S Sam
  • T Tom
  • U Union
  • V Victor = Verbal warning
  • W William = Written warning
  • X X-Ray = Bicycle citation
  • Y Young
  • Z Zebra

A given call may conclude with more than one disposition, each officer may have his or her own "dispo" ("for my part"), and a given code may be used more than once -- "10-8 with an R Robert and two L Lincolns" means a report will be written and two people were arrested.

P25 Radio ID's

1355206 La Crosse County ??? (NOT WISCOM COMPLIANT)
3230000 La Crosse County PSAP
323700X La Crosse County ???
80081XX Canadian Pacific Railroad Police
81005XX Wisconsin State Patrol EF Johnson VM900 squad radios
81055XX Wisconsin State Patrol EF Johnson VM900 squad radios
81105XX Wisconsin State Patrol portables
81155XX Wisconsin State Patrol portables
81205XX Wisconsin State Patrol Kenwood TK-5710 squad radios
81255XX Wisconsin State Patrol Kenwood TK-5710 squad radios
81605XX Wisconsin State Patrol portables
81655XX Wisconsin State Patrol portables
82XXXXX Wisconsin DNR
9901105 National Weather Service-La Crosse Weather Forecasting Office
9901200 National Weather Service-La Crosse Weather Forecasting Office
??????? Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
??????? Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center
??????? La Crosse Airport
??????? La Crosse Convention Center
??????? La Crosse DPW
??????? La Crosse FD
??????? La Crosse Metro Transit Utility
??????? La Crosse PD
??????? Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare
??????? MedLink
??????? Onalaska DPW
??????? US Fish & Wildlife Service (possibly 95XXXXX ?)
??????? US Fish & Wildlife Service-La Crosse District Office and Visitor Center
??????? UW La Crosse Janitorial/Maintenance
??????? UW La Crosse PD
??????? Wisconsin DNR La Crosse River Trail Office
??????? Wisconsin DNR La Crosse Service Center