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Wyoming Highway Patrol

Wyoming Highway Patrol’s K-9 Specifically Trained To Sniff Out Fentanyl; One Of Very Few In Nation

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Reno is a black Labrador retriever who loves getting a tennis ball to play with after she’s done with a hard day of work.

Her unique job sniffing out fentanyl usually does not take too long, especially if she does it well. Needless to say, she gets a lot of time with her tennis ball.

Reno is a fentanyl-sniffing dog for the Wyoming Highway Patrol, one of the few K-9s at any police department in the country specifically trained to sniff out pure fentanyl. On Thursday, she gave a demonstration of her skills for members of the media, sniffing out three bags of fentanyl in just minutes.

“It doesn’t matter if the fentanyl is watered down, so to speak, or cut with other substances, it doesn’t change the chemical makeup of the fentanyl itself. She can find it, either way,” Lt. Josh Hardee of the Wyoming Highway Patrol told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

Reno, the drug-sniffing K9, sniffs out a bag of fentanyl during a media demonstration Thursday.

The WHP has had Reno for about a year and in that time, she has made a number of drug busts, including sniffing out a 24-pound haul of fentanyl last year that landed a Washington man in prison for six years.

Mostly, Reno will work in Cheyenne and Laramie County, since the WHP headquarters is in the city. But, she could pop up in cities and towns across the state.

Hardee said Reno loves her job and he can tell she was a Lab “born to do this.”

Reno loves getting a tennis ball after a hard day’s work.

He also said there is a possibility that all of the WHP’s K-9s will be trained in detecting fentanyl, but for now, Reno is likely the only dog in the state who can set her nose on finding the dangerous drug.

“Reno and her handler make a great team and they’re finding more than just fentanyl,” Hardee said. “She can sniff out marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, too. There’s all kinds of drugs out there.”

Fentanyl has become a particular concern in Wyoming and across the country.

Legally administered, fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

It is considered a Schedule II controlled substance and is typically prescribed after surgery or for pain associated with early-stage cancer and can be administered as a shot, a patch or in lozenge form.

The illegally-manufactured fentanyl coming across the border is sold in powder form, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye drops or nasal sprays or pressed into pills stamped with “M30,” which Hardee said is a common form of fentanyl found in Wyoming.

“We want to be at the forefront of taking these drugs off the streets,” Hardee said. “At the Wyoming Highway Patrol, we know this is an epidemic and we wanted to do something about it.”

In 2019, 11 Wyoming residents died from fentanyl-related overdoses, followed by 21 in 2020. The following year, this number more than doubled, increasing to 45 in 2021.

With Reno’s help, the WHP hopes to keep fentanyl from killing hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

“You can see how much she likes doing it, because she gets excited and wags her tail,” Hardee said. “We don’t have to motivate her to go to work, she’s ready.”

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Wyoming Highway Patrol Reminds Drivers Not To Move Vehicles In U-Haul Trucks

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Highway Patrol is warning drivers that if they attempt to haul a vehicle by putting it inside of a larger U-Haul truck like some kind of automotive nesting doll, they could end up with a ticket — or even charged with a crime.

A set of photos from Washington state shows a U-Haul truck, its rear door open, carrying a vehicle that extends past the end of the U-Haul. The vehicle being carried is held in place with a packing strap.

As the photos went viral this week on Twitter, WHP Sgt. Jeremy Beck tried to discourage springtime movers in Wyoming from trying anything similar.

“I don’t know the circumstances behind the photos, but I will say that just because you can fit a vehicle on a trailer or in the back of a truck doesn’t mean that you should,” Beck told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

According to KKTV in Washington, the driver was pulled over this week in central Washington after several others reported a car hanging out of the back of a U-Haul moving truck.

The driver apparently had a suspended license and the U-Haul truck was “long” overdue for return, according to KKTV. The driver was given a $139 ticket for the unsafe load.

Beck noted that if a person was doing the same thing on Wyoming roads, they could also be charged for having an unsecured load.

“It becomes a hazard for you, because if the vehicle is not made to haul that much weight, it can cause you to lose control of the vehicle on interstates or highways,” he said. “Also, it could come loose and end up in the lanes of travel, which could cause a collision. You could be charged for that, as well.”

The sergeant added that Wyoming troopers see unsafe situations on the highway every day and if they see an unsecured load, they will make contact with the driver in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Just make sure before you head out and are towing a vehicle that the trailer or vehicle you’re using to tow something is equipped to do that and make sure it’s securely fastened so it doesn’t become a hazard for anyone else on the road,” Beck said.

U-Haul did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Wednesday.

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Man Convicted of Shooting Wyoming Trooper 37 Years Ago Loses Third Appeal

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A man convicted of attempted first-degree murder for shooting a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer in 1985 has lost his third attempt to overturn his conviction and life sentence.

Wyoming Supreme Court justices on Thursday unanimously rejected the appeal filed by Joseph Newton Best, saying his claims that his sentence is illegal were improperly filed.

Best was convicted of shooting Trooper Larry Szabo twice in an incident near Arlington and was sentenced to prison “for the remainder of his natural life.”

Best argued his sentence is illegal because the word “natural” does not appear in state laws describing sentencing for the crime of attempted first-degree murder.

But the justices ruled that Best’s challenge to his sentence could have been brought much earlier in the process that had seen him bring two previous unsuccessful appeals to the Supreme Court.

“Mr. Best could have raised his arguments concerning the validity of his conviction and sentence on direct appeal or in his motion for a new trial,” the court’s opinion said. “He did not.”

In his previous appeals, Best argued unsuccessfully in 1987 that his conviction should have been overturned because the trial court did not suppress the statements he made to police after he declined to have an attorney present during questioning. 

In 1989, justices rejected his arguments that he should have been granted a new trial because of new information that became available when Szabo filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages against, among others, the manufacturer of his holster. Best argued statements included in Szabo’s lawsuit provided new evidence showing that Best had acted in self defense. 

Justices disagreed.

“We are of the opinion that testimony … would not be evidence that would lead a reasonable man to conclude it was necessary for (Best) to shoot the officer in self-defense,” the 1989 opinion said.

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Man Killed In High Speed Chase With Wyoming Highway Patrol, 80 Pounds Of Weed Found In Car

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man was killed on Wednesday during a high speed pursuit he initiated with the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

On Wednesday, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers stopped a 2021 Chrysler van on Interstate 80 near Green River for a traffic infraction.

During the stop, the driver, who was standing outside, attempted to jump back into the van and drive away after speaking with the troopers for a short time.

Troopers attempted to stop him, but were unsuccessful. They pursued the vehicle as the driver fled east on I-80 headed toward Rock Springs.

The pursuit reached speeds of over 120 miles per hour. Law enforcement successfully deployed spike strips on the interstate to deflate the vehicle’s tires.

The driver continued to evade troopers, but collided with the back of a belly dump combination commercial vehicle at a high rate of speed after exiting the interstate at an exit ramp.

The driver was killed due to injuries sustained in the crash, although the commercial vehicle driver was unharmed. Troopers found approximately 83 pounds of suspected marijuana in the vehicle.

The driver’s identification is being withheld until their next of kin is notified, the WHP noted in a release.

The investigation is ongoing.

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WYDOT Poll: Getting Ticketed Or Arrested By Highway Patrol Can Be a Great Experience

in Wyoming Highway Patrol/News

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It would be fair to say that most people don’t like to get ticketed by law enforcement.

But, at least here in Wyoming, getting stopped, ticketed, arrested, or having any other interaction with the Wyoming Highway Patrol can lead to more positive feelings toward the department.

A new poll released by the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) showed that people’s feelings toward the Wyoming Highway Patrol improved after having contact with them.

“What was really impressive is that if you had an interaction with a trooper, your perception actually increased,” WYDOT Director Luke Reiner said.

It’s a big increase too. 

When asked about courtesy and respectfulness of Wyoming Highway Patrol personnel, 68% who had no contact said they were satisfied, but 86% who did have contact said they were satisfied, the survey indicated.

No word if WYDOT interviewed any of the drivers who tried unsuccessfully to elude the Highway Patrol, thereby breaking numerous more laws and likely increasing the odds of going to prison.

One of these individuals, earlier this year, tried to elude the Highway Patrol on a closed interstate after a record-breaking snowstorm. Although the driver had the highway to himself, the five-foot snowdrifts made it difficult to elude anything. He ended up in a snowbank before being arrested.

Other findings include:

In 2020, WYDOT received an 81.5% approval rating for promptness, compared to a 78.7% rating in 2018. 

For courtesy of the staff, WYDOT received an 88.5% approval rating in 2020 compared to 85.7% in 2018.

The survey showed that perceptions of road quality and maintenance dipped in 2020, with 80% of respondents saying they were satisfied after a highway construction project versus 82% in 2018.

The University of Wyoming’s Survey & Analysis Center conducted the survey from Nov. 25, 2020 through Jan. 9, 2021. Center callers completed 913 interviews, 733 were on cellphones and 180 on landlines.

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Cheyenne Man Leads Police On Crazy Car Chase; Heads Wrong Direction on I-25

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne man is in custody after leading police on a chase early Monday morning that included driving against traffic on Interstate 25 near Cheyenne.

Nickolas David Jones, 33, faces charges of with fleeing to elude, interference with a peace officer, careless driving, driving without lighted lamps, driving a vehicle with metal rims in contact with the roadway, driving without a seatbelt and driving the wrong way on the interstate in connection with the chase.

According to Wyoming Highway Patrol reports, around 12:04 a.m. Monday, troopers were notified of a vehicle driving erratically on Interstate 25, with and the driver turning the car’s headlights on and off.

Around 12:18 a.m., a trooper attempted to stop the vehicle, a 2014 Subaru, south of the port of entry on Interstate 25 in Laramie County, but the driver didn’t stop.

Jones initially fled south before crossing the interstate and driving northbound. He displayed reckless behavior by driving with the vehicle’s headlights off, leaving the driver’s seat and crawling into the backseat while the car was still moving and driving the wrong way on the interstate.

Jones continued to elude officers even after they made several attempts to use spike strips and perform tactical vehicle intervention maneuvers.

The pursuit changed travel directions multiple times on the interstate, with Jones continuing to exhibit erratic behavior and causing imminent danger to the public, according to patrol reports.

Outside of Cheyenne on the interstate, pursuing law enforcement units were able to use their patrol vehicles to pin the Subaru to the side of the road as Jones started driving south in highway’s northbound lanes toward stopped traffic.

Jones failed to comply with orders from the troopers, but the officers were able to use less-than-lethal force to take him into custody.

Once Jones was detained, officers observed he had self-inflicted cuts on his arm. Troopers administered first aid to control the bleeding and he was transported to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

The Cheyenne Police Department and Laramie County Sheriff’s Office helped in apprehending Jones.

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Broken Down Vehicle In Rock Springs Leads To Discovery Of Missing Idaho Child

in News/Crime

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A check on a disabled vehicle south of Rock Springs led the rescue of a missing Idaho child last weekend by the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

An “Amber Alert,” was issued Friday after a 10-year-old was abducted from the Idaho Falls area. The suspect vehicle was potentially headed for Pueblo, Colorado, so Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers were on alert.

According to WHP reports, on Saturday morning, a trooper was notified of a broken down vehicle in the road on Wyoming Highway 430 south of Rock Springs. The trooper found the car and realized it was similar to the one described in the Amber Alert.

The trooper spoke with the driver, who provided inconsistent and vague responses to questions, including telling the trooper he was alone in the vehicle. The trooper detained the driver and asked if the female suspect from the Amber Alert was also inside the car. The dcriver admitted the woman and child were both in the vehicle.

All occupants were asked to exit, and the child from the Amber Alert was found unharmed. The trooper later discovered small amounts of marijuana and methamphetamine inside the vehicle.

The child was released to the Wyoming Department of Family Services.

The driver and passenger were arrested and have been identified as Eugene A. Trujillo and Gabriella A. Rodriguez.

Trujillo has been charged with kidnapping, interference with custody, accessory before the fact, and child endangerment with methamphetamine.

Rodriguez has been charged with kidnapping, interference with custody, child endangerment with methamphetamine, and two counts of third-offense possession of a controlled substance.

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Court: Jury Should Hear Female Wyoming Trooper’s Sexual Harassment Case

in News/Criminal justice

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A jury should be allowed to hear allegations by a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer that she faced a hostile work environment because of her sex, a federal court has ruled.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday ordered a jury trial in the lawsuit filed by Delsa Brooke Sanderson, agreeing there are issues of fact that should be settled by a jury.

“A reasonable jury could find that Sanderson has raised genuine issues of material facts as to the severity and pervasiveness … of her hostile work environment claim,” the ruling said.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed against the Wyoming Highway Patrol by Sanderson, the patrol’s first female K9 handler. 

According to the ruling, Sanderson joined the Highway Patrol in 2007 and received many positive reviews in her first seven years of service. 

In 2015, she was named to the patrol’s “Divison O,” a special division that provides protective services for the governor and legislators.

Upon joining the team, Sanderson said rumors circulated that she had obtained the position because she was having an affair with someone in a leadership position at the Highway Patrol.

She was also reprimanded for being too “familiar” with the deputy chief of staff to the governor and accused of flirting with a local law enforcement officer during a visit by the governor to the National High School Rodeo.

In addition, Sanderson felt ostracized by her colleagues, the ruling said, because she was ignored by fellow officers and was excluded from activities.

The ruling said in evidence submitted during the U.S. District Court hearing, some troopers expressed the view that “Division O as a whole does not accept females.”

She was demoted to her prior position in 2016 after a dispute with a dog trainer during a training exercise.

The U.S. District Court in Cheyenne granted the Highway Patrol’s request to issue a summary judgment against Sanderson, finding that her evidence of harassment did not show that harassment was severe or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment.

But the appeals court said Sanderson’s evidence of acts that occurred before she joined Division O actually raised questions about continuing sexual harassment that should be decided by a jury.

Those acts included rumors that she had sex with many of her colleagues and that she used flirting and sex to gain advantages such as a new patrol car.

“…(A) jury could find that other hostile acts, which were not explicitly sexual in nature, were nevertheless part of the sexual harassment against Sanderson and contributed to a sexually hostile work environment,” the ruling said.

In addition, the ruling said, Sanderson’s evidence raised questions about how many people within the Highway Patrol took part in the harassment.

The court sided with the District Court in its decision to grant a summary judgment in favor of the Highway Patrol in Sanderson’s argument that she was demoted in retaliation for her actions. The appeals court found that Sanderson should first exhaust administrative avenues open to her in that allegation before proceeding to court action on the complaint.

Part of Sanderson’s lawsuit has already been heard by a jury, an allegation of sexual discrimination. A jury in 2019 found in favor of the Highway Patrol.

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Retired Wyoming Highway Patrol K-9 Passes Away

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A retired Wyoming Highway Patrol K-9 officer passed away last week, the department announced Tuesday.

Lou was a narcotics detection dog paired up with WHP Trooper Josh Hardee in 2009 who spent his 6-year career assigned to the Highway Patrol Division B in Casper. He retired in June 2015 due to chronic health concerns with his joint and hips.

During his career, Lou was deployed more than 400 times and helped seize 25 pounds of marijuana, 75 grams of cocaine, 318 grams of methamphetamine, 350 grams of illegal pills, four illegal guns and more than $433,000 in currency related to drug trafficking.

Lou also loved being around children, participating in several school events where students could meet and play with him.

During his five years of retirement, Lou spent time with Hardee and his family playing, chewing on tennis balls, counter surfing and watching over his family.

Before his passing, Lou enjoyed two cheeseburgers and a car ride.

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Wild High-Speed Chase Ends After Highway Patrol Uses Spike Strips & Rams Vehicle

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File photo

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On Monday, July 20, 2020, a Sheridan, Wyoming resident led WHP Troopers and Sheridan County Deputies on a pursuit east of Sheridan, Wyoming.

The pursuit began after officers were called to the Sheridan Wal-Mart to take a report of an assault. Officers with the Sheridan Police Department were able to locate the suspect vehicle, a 2002 Jeep, as it was leaving. The driver of the Jeep failed to stop for officers and fled east on Wyoming 336.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Troopers and Sheridan County Deputies responded east on Wyoming 336 to check for the suspect vehicle a short time later. 

Deputies spotted the vehicle traveling at 100 mph headed west on Wyoming 336 towards Sheridan. 

Deputies attempted to stop the vehicle a second time, but the driver failed to stop. WHP Troopers were able to successfully deploy spike strips to deflate the suspect vehicle’s tires around milepost one on Wyoming 336. 

The suspect vehicle continued to drive on deflated tires towards the city limits of Sheridan. A WHP Trooper, now behind the suspect vehicle, noticed children in the area of the pursuit. 

Due to the extreme behavior of the suspect and imminent threat to public safety, the Trooper decided to end the pursuit by forcing his patrol vehicle into the suspect’s vehicle. 

The vehicle was disabled a short distance later.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as 32-year-old Sheridan, Wyoming resident Cody A. Zack. Instead of Zack exiting his vehicle as instructed, he made gestures with a knife, as if to harm himself. 

After talking with Zack for an extended time, law enforcement was able to take him into custody without further incident.

Mr. Zack is facing multiple traffic charges, and numerous felony charges are pending.

Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency investigating this incident.

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Wyoming Highway Patrol Frowns on “Cannonball Run”-Style Racing

in News/Coronavirus

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Road-racing on public highways is illegal and just because we’re enduring a pandemic doesn’t mean laws of the road are on hold, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Earlier this week, a driver allegedly shattered the record for driving from New York to Los Angeles, accomplishing the feat in 26 hours and 38 minutes.

The coast-to-coast race known as “Cannonball Runs” — named after the Burt Reynolds movies of the 1980s — is frequently attempted despite its illegality.

Though the specific route is unknown, if drivers are caught racing — or speeding — in Wyoming, pandemic or not, they’ll be pulled over, according to the Highway Patrol.

“This can create a very dangerous situation and if folks are trying to race to get to a location it can definitely create a hazard,” said Sgt. Jeremy Beck, a patrol spokesman.

“Our troopers are still out and enforcing traffic laws,” he said. “Traffic laws will be enforced. We will make it the safest that we can for the motoring public.”

The new record reportedly shaved 45 minutes off the old mark and is being credited to, not surprisingly, the decrease in traffic on U.S. roads.

One Cannonball insider — and former record-holder — told Road and Track magazine that the new record is credible.

“It wasn’t me,” Alex Roy told the magazine. But he did shed light on the individuals and the type of car.

“All we know about this new set of scofflaws is that there were three, maybe four of them, and that they were driving a white 2019 Audi A8 sedan with a pair of red plastic marine fuel tanks ratchet-strapped into its trunk,” the article reads.

“They started at the Red Ball Garage in New York City at 11:15 pm on April 4, and ended less than 27 hours later at the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, California, the traditional start and end points of a Cannonball attempt.”

CBS reported that a trio of drivers set a record for the run back in December by averaging 103 mph for a full day with a top speed of 193 mph.

How do these people escape law enforcement? A mixture of old and new technology.

“We’ve got a couple radar detectors, a CB radio, a police scanner,” the racer said of December’s trip. “We use gyro-stabilized binoculars and, something new for this trip that’s never been done, we used a thermal scope on the roof of the car so we’re able to see anything warm on the road waiting there for us.”

These drivers were also assisted by a team of spotters who scoped out the road in front of them and would alert them to speed traps.

Although it all sounds fun, the former record-holder looks at the new record with disdain.

“If you hit a truck moving medical supplies and people die because of it, that’s on you,” Roy said. “People are counting on those trucks moving around right now. It’s not funny.”

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WHP issues reminder to holiday drivers — drive sober, avoid distractions

in News/Transportation

The Wyoming Highway Patrol is urging Wyoming’s citizens to drive sober — and without distractions.

So far this year, 77 people have died in accidents on Wyoming’s roads. Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeremy Beck said to slow the growth of that number, motorists need to remember basic safe driving tips.

“Motorists still need to take into account that if you’re driving impaired and under the influence, you’re more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle collision,” he said. “If you’re driving without a seatbelt, you’re more likely to be seriously hurt if involved in a … collision. Don’t drive distracted. Put away your phone when you decide to drive to your destination.”

Driving while intoxicated always raises the risk of an accident, Beck said.

“Do not drive impaired,” he said. “You’re risking your self and anyone else who’s on the roadway’s safety.”

However, driving distracted, such as when making a phone call or answering a text, is also dangerous, he said.

“No phone call or text is worth your life,” he said.

Personnel dispute leads to alleged threats, Meier denies allegations

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Read the incident report here.

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A dispute over personnel issues at the state treasurer’s office led to an allegation of threats being made in March by state Treasurer Curt Meier against employees in the state Human Resources Division, according to an incident report filed by Wyoming Highway Patrol officers.

However, Meier, in a news release issued Tuesday, denied making any threats and noted that the incident did not result in any charges being filed.

“Let me be clear, I unequivocally deny that I made any threat,” Meier said. “My conversations with Human Resources have always been professional and, in fact, I have never even visited HR since my election.”

The report also referred to an alleged dispute between Meier and state Auditor Kristi Racines while both were attending a meeting in the Jonah Business Center. Racines noted the report was more than a month old and said she and Meier get along well.

“I believe Treasurer Meier and I have a good working relationship,” she said Tuesday. “I have every confidence that we will continue to work well together in the future.”

According to the report filed by Trooper Erik Shoden and obtained by the Cowboy State Daily, he and one other Highway Patrol officer were called to the Emerson Building on March 21. The Emerson Building houses the state’s Department of Administration and Information, which is the parent agency for the state Human Resources Division.

According to the report, Anne McGee, manager of the Human Resources Division, told the officers that Meier threatened violence against the division that prompted the division to institute a “lock down.”

Human Resources employees said Meier and his office “had become increasingly agitated with employees leaving his office for employment opportunities at other state agencies, such as the governor’s office and state auditor.”

The employees said Meier was not happy that he could not easily reclassify existing positions within his department to provide higher salaries for his employees, the report said.

The report quoted employees as saying Meier was particularly unhappy with the departure of one employee who joined the state auditor’s office at a position two levels higher than what Meier could offer.

“Believing he was being treated unfairly by the Human Resources Department, he stated he had already verbally beat up the department, but now he was going to have to do it physically,” the report said.

The report was not clear as to whether the comment was made over the phone or in person. The comment prompted the lock down of the Human Resources Division.

The employees also told officers of Meier “aggressively cornering” Racines during their meeting at the Jonah Business Center to discuss her office’s hiring of one of Meier’s employees.

Russ Noel, deputy director of the Department of Administration and Information, was quoted in the report as saying he had spoken with Meier two days prior to the alleged incident.

“Noel … stated Treasurer Meier sounded very annoyed on the phone, but was not acting rude towards him,” the report said. “During the phone conversation, Meier was bothered he was not able to reclassify positions and hire people in a timely manner, hinting the Human Resources Department and subsequently A&I were not doing everything they could to help him with his staffing situation. He concluded by saying this (the issue) WILL get taken care of and this was the last straw.”

The report said no criminal violation was identified and the investigation was closed.

Meier’s office, in an email accompanying the news release, said there would be no further comments made by the treasurer about the incident.

Note: This story has been updated as of 7:40 PM, April 30, 2019.

Storm makes travel around southeastern Wyoming difficult

in weather

By Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Highway Patrol urged drivers in southeastern Wyoming to stay off of roads as a strong storm blasting the region with snow and brisk winds left highways icy.

Sgt. Jeremy Beck of the Wyoming Highway Patrol said although the snow that fell during the day Wednesday only left roads wet, dropping temperatures would turn that water to ice.

“We’re expecting the temperatures to drop a little bit and that will cause all the melted snow that’s on the roadway right now to freeze up, which will cause the roadways to get pretty slippery and icy and … hazardous for people to drive on,” he said. “It’s very hard to maintain traction on icy roads and also, once you get some snow over the top of that, it can really cause … treacherous driving.”

Most highways in eastern Wyoming remained open on Wednesday evening, although Interstate 80 east of Cheyenne was closed because of weather conditions in Nebraska.

As the storm hit eastern Wyoming, schools and government offices in Cheyenne, Torrington and Gillette were closed and Goshen County School District officials announced that classes would be canceled for Thursday.

The storm was expected to continue through Wednesday and into Thursday, with more snow and high winds expected overnight. Snow was predicted to taper off on Thursday before ending on Friday.

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