To align municipal code with state statute, the Laramie City Council reviewed an ordinance Tuesday that could allow people charged with possession of a controlled substance to qualify for a first-offender treatment program.
“These proposed ordinances don’t mean the city of Laramie would change its attitude toward (drug) offenses,” Laramie City Attorney Bob Southard told the council during its business
“What we’re dealing with the ordinance now is the possibility people charged in Laramie are being treated very differently than someone prosecuted 15 miles from city limits.”
The Wyoming Legislature provides state courts and prosecutors two other options: the right of a court to treat some defendants as first offenders, and the chance to have a drug crime charged as use rather than possession, city documents state.
If convicted, the state’s program allows qualified first offenders to enter a treatment program and serve probation with the possibility the conviction could be removed from their record, Southard said.
“The thing I’m worried about is people saying, ‘Don’t worry about it — the first time is going to be wiped out,’” Councilor Joe Shumway said.
Former councilor and Laramie resident Paul Weaver said he thought the ordinance was ripe for council review.
“You can find some pretty good research about the benefits (of first-offender programs),” Weaver said. “But I don’t think you need to look much further than other courts implementing this.”
The council unanimously approved the first reading of the first-offender ordinance, meaning the two more readings are necessary for the ordinance to go into effect.
“Sometimes, these people don’t think about the ramifications of this,” Councilor Klaus Hanson said. “I hope they will be informed of what will happen if they come back.”
The council also approved a memorandum of understanding with Jackson to provide three Laramie Police Department officers as additional law enforcement for an event celebrating the 2017 total solar eclipse.
“Jackson (Police Department) is going to pay for all the overtime, fuel, food and lodging costs,” Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder said. “We pay the base wages.”
Referred to as mutual aid, he said agreements like this are a necessity in a large state with limited law enforcement resources.
“We’ve used Cheyenne (Police Department officers) for (driving-under the-influence) enforcement during Jubilee Days,” Stalder said. “It’s a give-and-take.”