When the Cody Police Department reached out to the Cody community in last month’s forum to see how it can improve, it seemed as if law enforcement and the public had differing views on what is important.

A recent survey showed Cody residents viewed de-escalation training for officers as the top priority.

However, the biggest concern for Cody Police appears to be how to deal with the increase in crime due to illegal drugs.

Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker said there has been an increase in drug addiction and the presence of opioids including fentanyl and heroin. That’s a national problem from which Cody is no longer immune.

Cody Police Lt. Jason Stafford added most local thefts are connected to the need to get money for drugs.

Additionally, drug addiction and mental health issues put a strain on the services offered by the Department of Family Services.

While it at first blush it appeared Cody residents and law enforcement personnel had different priorities, maybe they aren’t that far apart.

In many cases it is mental health issues or drug addiction that cause confrontations with law enforcement personnel and hence the need for de-escalation training.

Clearly the Cody community needs more addiction and mental health facilities. Stafford said it is not uncommon that a patient with mental health issues is kept in jail or at Cody Regional Health for weeks because of backlogs at Wyoming Behavorial Institute or the State Hospital.

Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric pointed out the obvious, “The state is failing us as far as mental health.”

We agree and call on our state legislators and Gov. Mark Gordon to begin serious work on the issue of how to deal with drug addictions and mental health issues.

Such efforts will not only help those suffering from mental health issues and addictions, but, also, equally as importantly to protect society.

It’s going to take money, but this is a critical issue and a potential danger to society that has long needed to be addressed.

 

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