Police

Elaine Maestas remembers her sister, Elisha Lucero, going out of her way to help people.

“Even if it was like the last of her money, the last 20 dollars, and she knew you needed gas to get to work, didn't matter if you were a friend, a family member or somebody that she just met, she would help you out,” Maestas said.

How far has America come in enacting meaningful police reform since George Floyd’s death nearly one year ago? That question faces renewed scrutiny with the rare verdict against ex-police officer Derek Chauvin. On Tuesday a Minnesota jury found Chauvin guilty of murdering Floyd after he pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for roughly nine minutes — captured in a video that spurred a global awakening.

Nearly 1,000 miles from Minnesota, criminal justice experts say Colorado has set a bold example for the entire nation when it comes to impactful police reform.

Wyoming Legislature

After killing it earlier in the day, the Wyoming House of Representatives reconsidered and passed the bill that would provide a statewide structure for tracking instances of serious police misconduct.

The bill looks to prevent law enforcement officers with records of serious misconduct from getting or maintaining certification in Wyoming.

Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming House Judiciary Committee decided to move forward with a bill that would create a system for maintaining records for instances of serious police misconduct that occur in the state.

Luke Anderson

2020 will be known as a devastating year. More than 300,000 people in America died due to complications from the novel coronavirus. But it was the single death of a black man in Minneapolis that sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

It also sparked us to dig into the numbers of people killed in our region during interactions with law enforcement. In this bonus episode, we found something startling. The Mountain West News Bureau's Maggie Mullen hosts.

Updated 12:59 p.m. ET

Former U.S. Capitol Security officials told Congress during a joint hearing on Tuesday they did not have sufficient information ahead of Jan. 6 to accurately predict the scale of the attack.

Casper Police Department

A Casper Police Department (CPD) survey is aiming to better understand what the sexual violence atmosphere looks like at its local establishments, such as bars or restaurants.

This is the first story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Last summer, parks and streets across the country filled with the sound of violins. They were played by people protesting the death of 23-year-old violinist Elijah McClain. The young black man was walking home from a convenience store in Aurora, Colo. when he was stopped by the police after someone called saying he looked "sketchy."

This is the second story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Cole Stump was a Montanan, through and through. The 29-year-old citizen of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe was raised on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation in the north-central part of the state and had family ties to the Fort Peck Reservation in the northeast corner. He was a loving father of five and a skilled ranch hand.

This is the third story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A windswept valley cuts through the heart of Lethbridge, Alberta, about an hour north of the border. That wind is what the small prairie city has long been known for. The local hockey team is called the Hurricanes.

But these days Lethbridge is known for something else too – crime. The city of 100,000 tops Canada's Crime Severity Index. And as the crime rate has risen, so has the police's use of force.

This is the fourth story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Moses Lake is a hard-scrabble, working-class community out in the dry, flat scablands of eastern Washington. Ywhna Bin Wahid is taking me on a tour downtown.

This is the fifth story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Until recently, Logan Dailey was a deputy sheriff in rural Cherry County, Nebraska. But today, he's the managing editor and reporter for four rural news outlets and a farming business publication based in Wyoming.

There are a lot of questions about why the pro-Trump mob was able to breach the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. One pertains to the National Guard: Where were they?


Andrew Graham, WyoFile

The Albany County Democratic Party has provided the names of three people to replace Dave O'Malley as the Albany County sheriff. Democrats picked former Sheriff's Deputy Gary Wilken, current University of Wyoming police officer Aaron Appelhans, and Laramie County District Attorney Baend Buus who lives in Albany County.

Jackson Hole Police Department

The Teton County Board of Commissioners appointed five members of the community to be on a task force that will help shape the direction of law enforcement in the valley.

This comes after the commissioners received public feedback on budgeting for law enforcement and human services. This was at the same time of the national movement to defund the police. 

The Mountain West News Bureau is reporting on policing in our region. Data show that, as a whole, our region has a high per capita rate of law enforcement-involved fatalities. But there are big disparities among communities. Montana's Yellowstone County, for example, has one of the highest rates of police-involved fatalities, while Kootenai County, Idaho, has one of the lowest.

Why is that? Is policing in our region different? Are there different challenges in our communities? This year we’ll be reporting on our findings, and we also want to hear from you.

A dispatcher says someone was reportedly walking around a house when the owners were away on vacation. An update says that person appears to be holding a gun.


Savannah Maher


Growing up, Lavina Antelope and her little brother Andy were close. She calls him the baby of the family, even though he wasn't the youngest of his nine siblings. She says he was funny and tenderhearted. In his final years, he struggled with severe and chronic alcoholism. Lavina Antelope worried that her brother's addiction would kill him. She never imagined she would lose him to police violence.

Dhtrible at the English language Wikipedia via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license


It's been a month of turmoil for the Jackson Police Department. Two officers resigned in mid-August after a post about a sexual assault investigation on the department's Facebook page drew community outrage.

Just after that, an investigation by the Jackson Hole News and Guide uncovered another incident that raises questions about the culture of the department. Wyoming Public Radio's Savannah Maher spoke with the News and Guide's investigative and justice reporter Emily Mieure about what she found.

Flickr Al_HikesAZ

Update 8/21/20 5:00 p.m.: According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, the officer who wrote the blotter has resigned from the Jackson police. 

Last week, a post on the Jackson Police Department's Facebook page drew outrage, including from advocates for victims of sexual assault.

The post on the department's Facebook blotter made light of an investigation of an alleged sexual assault of a minor. The department's Facebook blotter usually uses humor to share police matters with the public. But this time much of the public felt it went too far.

Eda Uzunlar/Wyoming Public Media

Thousands have taken to the streets across the country, and right here in Wyoming, to call for an end to unchecked police misconduct. An investigation by Wyoming Public Radio and the Casper Star-Tribune found that in Wyoming law enforcement accountability can be a long, uncharted and demanding process. Naina Rao spoke with reporters Tennessee Watson and Shane Sanderson about what they found.

ACLU Wyoming

The ACLU of Wyoming is hosting a virtual forum this weekend, providing space for a discussion about police brutality. The call-in forum encourages communities of color and victims of police brutality to share their stories.

Protests are unfolding across the country over the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of police in Aurora, Colo. Now, frustration is also building over local law enforcement’s use of force this past weekend at a vigil in Aurora honoring him — frustration that was visible at a city council meeting Tuesday night dedicated to the response. 

Andrew Graham, WyoFile

In February, Albany County Sheriff David O'Malley dismissed concerns raised by a Laramie resident about a controversial deputy by telling a county human resources official that the complainant needed "professional help" and was "difficult to listen to."

Protests against racism and police brutality continue in Colorado, but there are many faces and voices that are missing. Here, four Colorado women who are Black activists and scholars share their thoughts on what this moment means to them. They’ve opted out of protests, due to health complications or because they’re participating in other ways. Scroll down for their full bios. 

Conor Mullen


Protesting racism and police brutality is nothing new. But large, sustained turnouts, especially in small, mostly white towns, is something we've not seen before. For many of these protesters, it's their first time demonstrating - ever.

Catherine Wheeler

Buffalo, Wyoming is a small Western town with fewer than 5,000 residents. The historic Occidental Hotel still stands on Main Street. Murals of horses paint the sides of old brick buildings. Buffalo's most widely attended event is a four-day long festival that celebrates a fictional sheriff in town based on Buffalo and Johnson County.

Kamila Kudelska

As the protests erupt throughout the nation and state over police brutality, some law enforcement officials have come out speaking against George Floyd's killing at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker released a joint statement with the Powell Police and Park County Sheriff departments describing themselves appalled by the use of force.

Chief Baker spoke at a rally in Cody saying he was there to listen. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska sat down with the Cody police chief to hear what he learned from being present at the rally.

Listening To The Voices Of Black Wyomingites

Jun 12, 2020
Savannah Maher

It's been three weeks since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd's killing has sparked unrest across America, including in parts of Wyoming that aren't used to seeing protests. From Laramie and Casper to Gillette, Riverton, and even small towns like Dubois and Pinedale, people in our state are speaking out against racism and police violence against Black people. At many of these vigils, marches and demonstrations, Black Wyomingites are leading the way.

 

Cooper McKim

It's a hot, sunny day as Black Lives Matter protesters stand at a busy intersection in Laramie. It's during one of the daily protests in town that began in early June.

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