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Officer-Involved Shooting Reveals Weak Policies And Procedures

Tennessee Watson

Last week a grand jury decided not to indict Albany County Sheriff's officer Derek Colling for shooting 39-year-old Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez in November. On Monday, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent announced her intent to take a look at why this incident happened and if it could have been avoided.

Ramirez was known to struggle with mental health issues. Trent, who also serves on the Albany County Community Mental Health Board, shares concerns that Ramirez's mental health status led to him being shot.

Local law enforcement were trained in crisis intervention several years ago, but Trent said it didn't prepare officers to respond to mental health issues in a variety of contexts.

"How do you know when someone is mentally ill in a traffic stop? We've never approached that," said Trent.

She'd like officers to do more training as soon as possible.

Debra Hinkel, the mother of Robbie Ramirez, also serves on the Community Mental Health Board and was involved in those trainings conducted with law enforcement several years ago. Hinkel says training is important, but it's also about how we determine who's right for the job.

"Just because they are a sharpshooter and they have all this athletic ability, and maybe were top in their class in all sorts of areas," Hinkel said, "How well do they deal with people? That's what policing is about."

Trent said the county and the state could look at strengthening policies and procedures related to use of force. Albany County for Proper Policing released a statement Monday calling for an increase in de-escalation training. Only 16 states currently require de-escalation training and Wyoming is not one of them.

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