Karla's Kolumn: Fortunate to live here
June 18, 2020
Our country is in turmoil. In some cities, citizens have taken over police buildings and whole city blocks. Groups are calling for police departments to be defunded.
In Wyoming, we had protests against police brutality and for racial justice and equality but we have not, thankfully, seen the destructive rioting.
All of these things have been sparked by recent deaths of citizens at the hands of law enforcement.
In Wyoming we are not immune to police shootings or police misconduct. There was a recent shooting in Riverton. When I lived in Basin there was an officer-involved shooting. In that incident the man was armed, the man threatened the officer and the officer protected the life of himself and of the residents in the area.
I had a neighbor tell me he was thankful for the actions of the officer because he and his family were scared for their lives.
As I watch the riots and destruction in large cities across America I am thankful I live in a small town in Wyoming. Perhaps that is why I have lived most of my life in the Big Horn Basin and small communities. We care about people. We care about our families, our friends, neighbors and even strangers.
I hope that never changes, but I worry as people from those big cities seek a different and better lifestyle they will come to Wyoming and try to change what makes this state special. I hope I am wrong.
I am thankful for our local law enforcement and first responders. It's not an easy job they have dealing with the public. Most of their calls are dealing with people on their worst day or a not-so-great day.
I have been fortunate that my interactions with police have mostly been through work, and through a few traffic citations. I would say 95% of those interactions have been positive. I have treated the officer with respect and I have been treated with respect.
I know that is not everyone's experience. I know there are a few bad apples, just as in every profession. (I am not speaking of any local "bad apples" but if you listen to the news you know there are some.)
We are fortunate to live where we do. We, for the most part, appreciate and support our law enforcement.
Tuesday night, council member Kreg Lombard asked to speak to the council and to Police Chief Gabe Elliott.
He admitted that his son is a member of the local police force, but said he had no part in hiring him or in having him choose that profession.
But Tuesday night he said he wanted to publicly thank the officers who put the lives of the citizens before their own. "Their families are at home while they are out in the middle of the night you never know what's going to happen. We're in a safe area."
He said in the 1965 during the Watts Riots/Watts Rebellion in Los Angeles, California, he was working with the fire department and the police told the fire department to go home because it was a "war zone." He said people would take axes off the fire trucks and cut the water hoses of supply lines that were being used to fight fires in the area.
When one reads about the Watts Rebellion (see history.com) it is eerily reminiscent of what is happening today.
"My hat is off and I hope all of us our hats are off to each and everyone of our first responders. We appreciate what you do Gabe, and all of your guys."
Elliott responded that he appreciated the comments and added that he and Capt. Zach Newton had discussed the very subject earlier in the day. "We're very fortunate we live where we live. I wouldn't want it any other way."
The chief could not have said it better for that is what I feel every year, but more so this year.
I am fortunate to live where I live. It's fortunate we have a council that supports our law enforcement. I do not want to live where a department is "defunded" or where rioters take over part of a city.
I feel fortunate to live where I live. I do not want to live anywhere else.