Laramie County D.A.: Cheyenne Residents Are ‘Soft Touches’
Laramie County District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg says Cheyenne residents may be overly generous in giving money to homeless people.
Sandburg says the donations encourage transients to spend money on drugs or alcohol. He says that, in turn, leads to time-consuming calls for local police.
Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak, contacted for this article, said that while transients don't typically commit violent crimes, they are often involved in minor offenses such as public intoxication. He said such calls do take up a fair amount of time for officers.
The D.A. says transients have also been attracted to the region because of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.
However, Cheif Kozak said that while he thought the legalization of marijuana is attracting transients to Colorado, he doesn't know if it is bringing them to Laramie County.
Sandburg says people in western states in general and Cheyenne specifically are ''soft touches" for homeless people who ask for money.
Sandburg says that is less likely to be the case in larger cities like Chicago, where he went to law school. He says in larger cities "you get pretty cold pretty quick" to transients who ask for money. He says being a soft touch "Is not a bad thing. But the flip side of that is, if you're giving people money on the street, what are they using it for."
Sandburg says on a recent daytime "ride along" with a Cheyenne police officer, the officer spent over half of his time responding to various calls involving transients. The D.A. says he was ''shocked" at the amount of time involved in dealing with transient issues, adding he "senses the frustration" of the Cheyenne Police Department in dealing with so many transient calls.
Cheyenne Police have issued several statements over the last few years asking people not to give homeless people money because there are already programs such as the Comea Shelter in place to help them, and cash that is given directly to them often goes for alcohol or drugs.
Sandburg says his office also is dealing with an increasing number of crimes committed by transients.