By Ernie Over
Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee last week told the county commissioners that, despite being a bit shorthanded in several areas, the office has been running smoothly. For the months of July and August, Lee said there were 422 bookings into the detention center with Riverton Police providing the most inmates, at 197. His office was second at 116 and the Lander Police Department accounted for 104 bookings. There were 16 inmates from the Wyoming Highway Patrol, four federal inmates from the U.S. Marshal Service, five inmates from the Shoshoni Police Department and none from the Dubois force.
As of Tuesday, Lee said there were 174 inmates housed at the Lander detention center, with 170 in-house, including 112 men, 58 women and two juveniles with one at the state hospital in Evanston; one adult male inmate is being held in Hot Springs County at no charge to the county. (Convicted child molester Donald Detimore has been listed on the Hot Springs County jail roster since his conviction in July.)
Of those incarcerated, the sheriff said 62 are now serving sentences, 42 men and 20 women and that of the total inmate population, 125, are still awaiting sentencing. The vast majority are from Riverton Circuit Court at 41%, Lander Circuit Court has 13% awaiting sentencing, two percent from Riverton Municipal Court and one percent from Lander Municipal Court.
The detention center is currently down four deputies with one applicant now in background checks and the facility is down two civilian controllers.
Lee said his dispatch center is down two dispatchers with two candidates now in background checks. He said dispatch has also been busy with 13,411 calls so far this year, 90% of which originated from cellular sources. Of those calls, 4,357 were dispatched out to deputies. He said there have been 1,288 calls for an ambulance and 219 calls for fire departments, including controlled burns.
The county’s patrol division is down one deputy in Dubois and two in Riverton, primarily due to retirements. One patrol deputy applicant is now in the background check phase.
The sheriff reported receiving one Homeland Security grant in the amount of $58,000, which he said is being used to purchase equipment across his department.
Search and Rescue
Lee said the county’s search and rescue teams “have been extremely busy” of late with 18 missions so far this year. He said a few of the missions have been quite extensive, involving a lot of time and energy.
Of the missions, three were recoveries of persons who had died. They include a drowning at Ocean Lake, a climbing fatality in the Cirque of the Towers and the latest, a man who fell off Gannett Peak while descending the mountain.
He reported that a search for a 76-year-old man in the Steamboat Lake area of the Wind River Reservation was called off on Monday after search crews found “zero clues.” Lee said the Tribal Fish and Game plus SAR were involved in that search, at an elevation of 10,000 feet. He said tribal searchers scoured the area over the weekend on horseback. He noted the the family and tribal officials will continue the search.
During one of the search missions, on the way back from the base of Gannett Peak, a volunteer member of the county SAR suffered a bad leg injury in a rock fall, with an open compound fracture of her leg. She was evacuated from the area by the Jenny Lake Rangers from Grand Teton National Park, who long-lined her to a landing zone where she was transferred to an ambulance and taken to the hospital. “Fortunately, she is now out of the hospital and doing well,” Lee said.
The man who fell while descending Gannett Peak, Wyoming’s tallest mountain, fell about 800 feet to his death, according to the sheriff. His body was located on the second day of searching, also by the Jenny Lake Rangers and Tip Top SAR from Pinedale. The man’s body was long-lined to a landing zone where the Fremont County Coroner’s Office received the body.
County Commission Chairman Larry Allen asked Lee about his department’s responses to complaints of neighbors not shooting safely toward other residences.
“This occurs mostly in the rural areas, and we do respond to these complaints,” he said. “Most times we know who the suspect shooter is, and we’ve found most of the time that they were shooting into a backdrop. It’s very rare that we find a situation where we find an unsafe condition, and in those situations citations are issued for reckless endangering, but again they are very rare instances.”