For neighborhood resource officers, it's about the relationships

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Even though they wear the same uniform, they are not your average police officers.

Currently six neighborhood resource officers roam the streets in La Crosse, looking to build partnerships with community members.

Thursday night, the La Crosse common council accepted a grant that would give $250,000 to the police department to hire two more NRO's.

Even though the program is only four years old their supervisor, Detective Sergeant Jon Wenger, says they have made a positive impact.

"That comes back to the mayor, comes back to the police department that these guys are working well with us and we don't want that to leave because the whole point of policing is to be a part of the community. When these guys go out in the community and they make an impact, the public takes ownership of that and they say that this is working for us, we don't want to let it go," said Wenger.

The six NRO's currently work in pairs amongst three neighborhoods, the Washburn neighborhood, the Lower Northside and Depot neighborhood and the Downtown District.

They're looking to assign the two new officers to the Powell-Poage-Hamilton neighborhood.

"A lot of what we do is trying to just get to the root of problems and solve them more effectively than what the typical patrol response is able to do," said Downtown District NRO Joel Miller.

That entails attending community meetings and building relationships with citizens.

"Other agencies in Wisconsin have called us asking us what is this and why does it work and how does it work and what do you do. So in the department we're growing, we're adding these two new positions this year, but I think the concept overall of what we're doing is grasping on statewide, region wide," said Wenger.

Wenger says he hopes to start interviewing for the new positions in the coming months.

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