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Sheridan Family With Special Needs Child Stranded In Denver After Car Stolen

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Sheridan family has been stranded in Denver since Saturday after a thief stole their wheelchair-accessible van.

The family of Lane Fischer reached out to Contact7, a part of the Denver Channel, over the weekend to ask for help. The family traveled to Denver for a doctor’s appointment for their young son Lane, who has Down Syndrome.

The family woke up Saturday morning to discover their 1996 Chevrolet van had been stolen, along with much of Lane’s equipment, including “two vents and a vent stand and an oxygen concentrator,” as well as five oxygen tanks.

“It is heartbreaking that someone would even think to take, even if it wasn’t his, any handicapped vehicle,” Yvonne Fischer said. “I just don’t understand.”

The vehicle was stolen from a hotel parking lot in east Denver sometime Friday night. The family uses it regularly to travel for Lane’s appointments in both Colorado and Montana.

Without the van and equipment, the family is unable to return home to Sheridan. They have also been unsuccessful in renting a van for the time being.

“At any point, [Lane] could stop breathing,” Yvonne Fischer said.

People looking to help the Fischer family with donations can follow this link, and use the drop down menu to choose “Help Replace Stolen Handicap Van.”

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Barrasso: Police Reform is Possible if Democrats Don’t Filibuster

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U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on Monday expressed cautious optimism for passage of federal police reform legislation if politics don’t get in the way.

Appearing on CNN, Barrasso told John King that approval for bipartisan legislation to enact police reform looks promising because the House bill and the Senate bill agree on so much.

“There is about a 70% overlap and agreement on these bills,” Barrasso said. “This is a good place to start.”

“With body cameras on officers, with doing the sorts of things that eliminate bad police officers, and giving the good cops the resources that they need, the accountability, the training, all of sorts of things that you have better results on the streets,” he said.

One sticking point has been the issue of qualified immunity — a legal doctrine created through court rulings that shields police officers from civil lawsuits. 

When asked if that issue could be on the table, Barrasso punted while signaling his distaste for it.

“That’s a legal term and it has to do with how many police officers we can sue.  And I want to find out how many people we can save in terms of saving their lives,” he said.

Still, the senator said he was optimistic because of bipartisan efforts made recently with the CARES Act for the coronavirus epidemic and the Great American Outdoors Act to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands.

He also said there is a real spirit of bipartisanship in the weekly Senate prayer breakfast he attends. 

“We have a history of doing bipartisan legislation,” Barrasso said.  “We need to make sure the Democrats don’t filibuster and Chuck Schumer has been threatening that.”

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Good News: Wyoming Fifth-Safest State in Country

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming has been ranked as the fifth-safest state in the nation by the personal finance website WalletHub.

The state’s status as having the third highest number of law enforcement employees per capita in the nation helped with its fifth-place overall ranking, which put it directly behind Utah and directly ahead of Iowa.

WalletHub said it looked at 53 key safety indicators in five categories to determine the threats faced by state residents from a number of sources, including roadway deaths, workplace fatalities and the coronavirus.

The company said the information it relied on for its rankings included state coronavirus response, assaults per capita, unemployment rates, the percentage of adults with “rainy day funds” and the rate of bullying.

With its high number of law enforcement officers, Wyoming placed sixth for the category of “personal and residential safety,” which also took into consideration a state’s number of mass shootings, assaults, thefts and other crimes per capita and the incidence of bullying.

In the category of financial safety, which looked at items such as the number of uninsured people in the state, unemployment rates, foreclosure rates and personal debt, Wyoming ranked 15th. 

For road safety, which looked at factors such as fatal accidents and charges of driving while under the influence of intoxicants, the state was in 16th place, the report said.

Wyoming was in 20th place for workplace safety, due largely to its rank as having one of the nation’s worst ratings for fatal occupational injuries per capita. Wyoming placed 48th in that area, sharing the ranking with North Dakota and Alaska.

Except for Utah, surrounding states trailed Wyoming. Idaho was ranked the 20th-safest place, Nebraska 30th, Colorado 36th, Montana 38th and South Dakota 40th.

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Wyoming Coronavirus: Overall Police Calls Decrease But Car Break-Ins Skyrocket

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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

With few exceptions, police call volumes are down during the pandemic in Wyoming’s two largest cities, Casper and Cheyenne police departments reported.

In Casper, vehicle break-ins skyrocketed since March 16, but assaults, patrol arrests and restraining order violations dropped significantly, said Rebekah Ladd, the Casper Police Department’s public information officer.

“The biggest thing we’re seeing are those auto burglaries,” Ladd said. “We’ve seen several homeowner’s security videos with people walking down the street pulling on car handles until they find one open.” 

From March 16 through April 17, calls labeled by dispatch as auto burglaries increased 18% and calls labeled burglary non-residential, which can include cars, sheds or outbuildings, increased 100%, she said.

Unlocked cars grant criminals unprecedented access to a number of valuables, and in some cases, firearms, Ladd said.

“Criminals aren’t likely stealing firearms to go hunting,” she said. “The No. 1 thing you can do is lock your car. In this way, we can literally disarm criminals.”

Overall calls for service in Casper were down 30%, according to Casper PD data. Calls labeled assault by dispatch were down 32%, residential burglary decreased 32% and Family Violence Protection Act calls, which include restraining order violations, were down 50%.

Patrol arrests also decreased with juvenile arrests dropping 82% and adult arrests falling by 51%.

“We’re really proud of our community,” Ladd said.  “Our call volume is down significantly. We’re really seeing people listening to state officials and taking the advice to stay home.” 

About 175 miles southeast in the Capital, David Inman, public information officer for the Cheyenne Police Department, said his department also experienced a decrease in call volume.

Inman did not have data on hand at the time of the interview, but anecdotally, he said Cheyenne has not seen a rise in burglaries of any type.

“Our violent crime — we don’t have much anyway — has gone down as far as assaults,” Inman said. “Domestic dispute calls have gone up, but that is just calls. Those don’t always indicate an assault. In many cases, it’s just two people yelling at each other loud enough for the neighbors to call us.”

Shoplifting remained at normal levels throughout the pandemic, but it was the outlier, he said.

“We’re associating the decreases with people staying inside more,” Inman said. 

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the state, both Casper and Cheyenne police departments reported they are approaching call responses with cautionary measures, such as face masks and medical gloves.

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