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Cheyenne Mayor, Former Police Chief Frustrated Over ‘Tragic’ Levels Of Property Crime

in News/Crime

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The current mayor and former police chief of Cheyenne are both expressing frustration over high levels of property crime in the city.

Mayor Patrick Collins told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that it “frustrat[ed] the hell” out of him to see how much property crime and vandalism is taking place in the city, while former police chief Brian Kozak said the city’s property crime rate exceeds those seen in larger Colorado communties.

“I don’t know if it’s drug-related. I don’t know if it’s people with too much time and not enough to do,” Collins said. “If you go into our parking garage right now, the second, third and fourth floors, it’s not just graffiti, it’s gross stuff. They’re breaking into the bathrooms in our parks, it’s just going on and on.”

Cheyenne Parking Garage

In his weekly “Mayor’s Minute” column issued on Friday, Collins called the levels of property crime being seen in the city “tragic” and called on residents to report any illegal activity to the Cheyenne Police Department.

Collins told Cowboy State Daily that the 110 police officers in the city could not be everywhere at once.

“If you see something that looks funny, I’m hoping that what would happen is someone would pick up a phone and say, ‘Hey, this doesn’t look right,'” he said.

Upon winning the mayor’s race in November 2020, Collins announced he would not reappoint Kozak as police chief because of what he called “sobering” crime statistics. Kozak disputed Collins’ allegations and said the incoming mayor was releasing misinformation.

Kozak, who is now a candidate for Laramie County sheriff, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that the property crime levels seen in Cheyenne and in the county are exceeding those seen in larger cities such as Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, Colorado.

“For example, Natrona County had 24 home burglaries last year, whereas Laramie County had 154, and they’re pretty consistent in population to us,” Kozak said. “Weld County in Colorado, which has traditionally had high crime rates, had 142 home burglaries. So we’re above them.”

One reason for the increase in the property crime rate, Kozak said, was the closure of the Laramie County Detention Center to people arrested on property crime charges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure encouraged perpetrators to commit more and more crimes over the last two years, he said.

Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove’s reluctance and occasional refusal to prosecute certain low-level crimes was also a contributing factor, Kozak said.

“We need to make sure our detention centers are kept open,” he said. “I think there should also be a task force created with our local law enforcement to really look at this property crime data and go after the people committing these crimes.”

Kozak believed a relatively small number of repeat offenders were responsible for the rise in crime rates.

Collins said the police department and current Chief Mark Francisco are aware of the issue of property crimes, but that Cheyenne was a relatively big city and crime was taking place in a number of different locations.

Francisco was not available for comment on Monday.

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Cheyenne Mayor ‘Heartbroken’ By Death Of Teen Who Was Struck By Car

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The mayor of Cheyenne was “heartbroken” to hear the news of a teenage boy who was struck by a vehicle and killed last week, he said in his weekly newsletter.

Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins called the death of Makaili “Mak” Evans last week “one of the darkest” times to have occurred since he was elected.

“We lost 13-year-old Makaili Evans to a tragic accident on his way to McCormick Jr. High School,” Collins wrote in his Mayor’s Minute newsletter on Friday. “Judy and I are heartbroken by the loss, and send our condolences and prayers to the family, McCormick students and staff, and those who knew and loved Makaili.”

The boy died last week after he was hit by a car as he tried to cross the street to get to the junior high school. He was hit by a Ford Escape around 7 a.m. and was pronounced dead after being taken to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

Collins expressed his appreciation for the first responders who tried to save the boy and said this event should remind everyone to cherish and love those around us.

“I have been asked what the city is doing to make sure this does not happen again,” Collins said. “I have met with the school district, police, and city engineer to understand the issues and learn what we can do. I do know we need to drive carefully and without distractions, especially in our school zones.”

A fundraiser launched for the boy’s family this week has raised nearly $30,000.

Laramie County School District No. 1 Superintendent Dr. Margaret Crespo sent a letter to parents on Tuesday to address questions and comments about traffic situations involving Mak and two other students in the last week.

Around 7 a.m. Monday, Cheyenne police officers responded to a report of two teenagers being hit by a car. An investigation revealed the two boys, ages 13 and 15, were attempting to cross the street at a crosswalk near Cheyenne’s East High School.

While crossing, both boys were struck by an GMC Acadia. They both sustained minor injuries and were transported to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

“Although the work is preliminary, we anticipate the Cheyenne Traffic Safety Committee will be conducting a safety audit of our pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic at each of our schools,” Crespo said this week. “As we work through this critical process, we will share updates when they become available.”

The Cheyenne Police Department shared on Monday that 238 traffic incidents have occurred near Cheyenne East High School. Of those incidents, 50 have occurred at the scene of Monday’s accident.

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Cheyenne Mayor Disappointed In Biker Bar’s Sale Of Anti-LGBTQ Shirts

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The mayor of Cheyenne on Friday expressed his disappointment with a local bar that was selling offensive T-shirts up until this week.

Mayor Patrick Collins addressed the offensive shirt that was sold by the Eagle’s Nest, a bar that primarily caters to motorcyclists, in his weekly column on the City of Cheyenne’s website.

“This week I have had many folks write with concerns about the homophobic tee shirt that was being sold at the Eagle’s Nest bar here in Cheyenne,” Collins wrote. “I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that any one in Cheyenne would espouse thoughts like these, let alone put them on a shirt to sell.”

The Eagle’s Nest was roundly criticized on social media over the weekend when a photo of the shirt the bar sold began circulating. Many commenters opposed what they called the shirt’s violent imagery and use of a derogatory term for homosexuals.

The shirt features a man pointing a pistol and reads “In Wyoming, we have a cure for AIDS, we shoot f—–‘n f—–s.”

“I know Cheyenne people to be loving and accepting and this abhorrent episode is in no way reflective of our people,” Collins said. “We are the capitol city of the Equality State, and it is important to let our LGBTQ neighbors know we believe they are a valued part of our community.”

The bar’s owner told The Cheyenne Post on Monday that the shirts had sold out and he had no intention of getting any more.

Ray Bereziuk said that he is “in the bar business, not the apparel business,” and that he would not be reordering the shirts.

It marked abrupt change as over the weekend, pro-LGBTQ organization Wyoming Equality asked the bar to stop selling the shirts, but the staff refused.

It wasn’t clear how long the bar had been selling the shirts.

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