BAGGS, WYO. A Baggs, Wyo., city councilman asked Carbon County officials Tuesday for more law enforcement presence in the Little Snake River Valley so Baggs doesn't have to send its only officer out of town.
Pat Grieve, Baggs' newest council member, told the Carbon County commissioners he had been directed to ask that more coverage of the Baggs area be provided by sheriff's deputies.
"We've got to get some more coverage from Carbon County so Baggs doesn't have to send our police officer" to crashes and incidents in Dixon and elsewhere in the valley, Grieve said.
Baggs Police Chief Ed Owen, currently the town's only officer, "spends a tremendous amount of time covering stuff he's not supposed to cover" because it's outside Baggs, Grieve said.
Grieve said the Town Council instructed him to attend Tuesday's meeting to tell county officials Baggs' police officers no longer can respond to out-of-town calls "unless it's a life-threatening situation."
This is the council's will, he pointed out, Owen remains willing to respond as needed.
Carbon County Sheriff Jerry Colson said this is the first time he's heard any complaints. He hadn't been informed that town officials don't want town officers to help with calls outside Baggs.
Colson said he has a second deputy trained and ready to move to the area to start covering the valley, but the deputy hasn't been able to find a place to live despite considerable searching.
"If he could find a house, he'd be starting work tomorrow," the sheriff said.
"There's plenty of housing down there," both rentals and houses to purchase, Grieve replied, saying he'd recently sold a house for $138,000.
"There's a housing crunch in Baggs," as well as the rest of the county, Commissioner Terry Weickum said. "Everybody but you says that."
Grieve pointed out that it didn't take long for Baggs to find a place for its new officer to live. The officer starts work soon.
Carbon County Undersheriff Mike Morris said prices are high in the area. The new deputy has encountered rental prices of $1,200 to $1,600 per month and houses to purchase for $200,000 in his search.
Grieve suggested the county follow the example of Carbon County School District 1, which moved modular homes onto school land because its teachers couldn't find homes to buy or rent in Baggs.
Officials think the county owns land in the Baggs area and building on it could be considered.
Commissioner Jerry Paxton said "I think the (housing) problem is serious enough we need to take a look at that. The problem is going to get worse before it gets better."
Grieve said he'd put the county first on the list to notify if housing becomes available.
Deputies were supposed to be present at a recent barbecue that began at 2 p.m., he said, but one didn't show up at the event until 4:30 p.m. and one arrived about 6 p.m.
Colson said he was told the barbecue began at 4 p.m. The second officer was delayed because he encountered and ticketed three speeders on the way to the event, he said.
Weickum said security officers should be hired to police events such as the barbecue.
Colson said he provided six officers for a recent rodeo and had compliments about the police presence.