Cheyenne police have been catching flack for their emphasis on traffic enforcement, but the department says there's a reason they worry about criminals on wheels.

"People tend to criticize police by saying, 'Hey, why aren't you looking for the real bad guys or why aren't you out looking for drug dealers,'" said Officer Kevin Malatesta.

"We expect that criticism and that's fair, but one thing that we want to just make sure the public is aware of is that the reason we're doing those traffic stops, the reason we're so proactive in our enforcement of traffic laws, is that when you look at the statistics the biggest killer is actually traffic accidents," he added.

Cheyenne Police Department

Malatesta says about ten times as many people die in car accidents in Wyoming as in shootings.

"We're generally a safe state as far as violent crimes are concerned," said Malatesta. "But with big, long highways and high speeds, Wyoming itself tends to have a high number of traffic fatalities."

Malatesta says officers will pull people over if they see them violating traffic laws, not because they love writing tickets, but because they're trying to keep people safe.

"We're not just doing it for no reason," said Malatesta. "The purpose of making these traffic stops is to educate drivers and make sure that they become better and safer drivers."