The May 2 Specific Purpose (6th Penny) Tax Ballot Proposition presents two proposals for the Laramie County Sheriff's Department. Proposition 2 is a proposal for $16,176,680 to expand the Laramie County Sheriff's Department detention facility. Proposition 9 contains $450,000 for the in-car camera system.
A 95% schematic design for the Phase II expansion of the jail has been completed by Short Elliot Hendrickson (SEH). The expansion was modeled after the Phase I addition that was completed in 2002. This expansion is expected to meet average daily population needs through 2040, based on annual bookings and average length of stay.
The proposed expansion consists of 30,896 gross square feet of new construction. The five story addition will consist of a new detective suite on the main floor and two 56 bed housing units.
This initiative, if approved, would allow the Sheriff's Department to address two issues which have become a concern in the Detention Division.
Mental health issues in the jail have increased significantly over the years. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimate 60% of jail inmates have symptoms of a mental health disorder. This high rate of mental health detainees among jail inmates reflect the role that jails play in the criminal justice system. They receive offenders after an arrest and hold them for a short period pending arraignment, trial, conviction or sentencing. Jails also hold mentally ill persons pending their movement to appropriate mental health facilities.
This proposal would expand the mental health monitoring in the jail. We currently have eight (8) holding cells in the Central Booking area of the Jail. Four of these cells can be used to watch individuals exhibiting mental health warning signs that indicate closer monitoring is warranted. In 2016 there were 325 individuals monitored in this area. The plans for the expansion would double the available cells (from 4 to 8) enhancing the Sheriff's Departments ability to deal with the large number of mental health issues in the jail.
The expansion would also allow the Jail to better manage the housing of female inmates. Females are currently housed in a 56 bed housing unit which creates many challenges. Having only one area prevents the proper classification of these individuals to manage personal conflicts, physical and medical restrictions, and safety and security concerns. The number of females has increased dramatically over the years and all indications are that this is a national trend that will continue.
With the increase in population in Laramie County and changes in Wyoming Statutes over the last 10 plus years, the functions of and demands on the Sheriff's Department have increased. In particular, many administrative functions require more space than is currently available. The administrative space in the Laramie County Detention Center has largely been unchanged since opening the doors in 1989.
The Department lacks sufficient office space for such programs as Sex Offender Registration, Victim Witness Advocates, 24/7 Sobriety Compliance, K-9, Reserve Officers, Chaplins, inmate visitation, personnel and training, quartermaster storage, evidence storage, meeting space, general storage, equipment, building and vehicle maintenance, and for the Investigations Unit. Over the last ten years, we have consistently shifted the space allocated to these functions around in order to accommodate needs. We have been utilizing areas not intended for these purposes, such as storage closets, to create office space.
In some cases, the absence of properly designed and adequate work space has caused our lobby area to be crowded with people reporting here for programs such as Sex Offender registration, inmate visitation and investigations purposes. These individuals need to be separated from the citizens who are coming here to conduct general business. It is essential to provide space for these functions in order to maintain privacy, confidentiality and orderly operations.
In addition to the Phase II jail expansion, Laramie County has proposed $450,000 in Proposition 9 for in-car cameras.
The existing system of in-car cameras is aging and technology has improved; for these reasons it is necessary to upgrade and replace the camera systems. The practical purpose of these cameras is to protect the public and deputies.
In critical or even "routine" events, video footage serves to document contact with the public providing an unbiased record in case of questioned actions by Department members. The judicial system has also become more reliant on video documentation.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Proposition 2 or the in-car cameras in Proposition 9, please contact Sheriff Danny Glick at (307) 633-4700.
Biographical Information: Sheriff Danny Glick
Danny began his career with the Laramie County Sheriff's Department in 1981 as a patrol officer. During his time with the Department he has served as a detective, sergeant, lieutenant and was elected to the Office of Sheriff in 2002. He has recently served as President of the National Sheriffs Association and the Western States Sheriffs Association.