It is the type of thing they tend to talk about only among themselves, perhaps over coffee or beers. But some top La Crosse police are now being openly critical of the La Crosse County judicial system. Assistant Police Chief Rob Abraham calls it “ridiculous” that people are being arrested, pampered by the courts, set free with a slap on the wrist, who then go on to commit more crimes. We have seen evidence of that in two recent La Crosse shootings, allegedly committed by people who have been in trouble before, but let off with much less than the maximum penalty. Police are frustrated, and no longer staying silent about it. Their concerns are understandable, as we all want a safe community. The criticism seems to be that judges are soft on crime. But there is more to the story than that. Many times deals are made between prosecutors and defense attorneys, where people plea to a lesser crime in exchange for avoiding a trial, which can be costly to taxpayers. Judges are also bound by state-imposed sentencing guidelines, so even if they wanted to lock someone away for life, they may not be able. It is important that our law enforcement and judicial system work together to keep La Crosse a safe place to live. But it is more than just our judges being soft. There are a lot of issues in play. We suggest that local police and court officials sit down, perhaps over beers, and work to find common ground, or at least a better understanding of the other's role. Because we want to make sure that only those who truly deserve them get second chances.