by nathan oster
Chief Bill Brenner doesn’t know how to explain it, but the numbers couldn’t be more telling.
2014 was a quiet year for the Greybull Police Department.
In fact, it was the quietest since 2008, when the town’s law enforcement responsibility shifted from the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office to a new police department, led at the time by Brenner himself.
That year, Greybull cops made 118 arrests, issued 448 citations and opened 200 case files.
Among those 118 arrests were 32 on charges of DUI and another 24 on drug charges.
Now fast forward to 2014.
Greybull police officers made 40 arrests, issued 141 citations and opened 99 case files.
There were just five DUI arrests and zero drug arrests.
“We’re talking about some pretty dramatic drops,” said Brenner. “I don’t know if it’s because there’s less crime — I think that’s a big part of it — or if it’s because of the political environment where there’s a perception that the council is against the police department. I can’t explain it. But it was a very quiet year.”
One explanation could be the fact that the GPD ran at less than full strength for much of the year. Authorized to have five full-time officers, including the chief, the GPD spent much of the year one officer down as a result of the departures of Shannon Armstrong, at the end of 2013, and later Brent Casey, as well as the time Sean Alquist spent at the police academy.
Right now the GPD is running with four officers, although that, too, is scheduled to end in the coming days when the department welcomes an officer recently hired out of Missouri, Tom Schroyer. He’s scheduled to start next week.
Taking a closer look at the 2014 numbers, Brenner said the 40 arrests represent a 32-percent decrease from 2013, the 141 citations a 69 percent decrease and the 99 case files a 12 percent decrease.
While arrests and citations are trending downward, the same cannot be said for calls for service. The GPD responded to between 3,305 and 3,935 calls in its first three years of existence, but it’s been over 4,259 every year since, with the highest call volume being the 4,482 recorded in 2013.
Brenner said the loss of the town’s drug dog, whose departure coincided with that of its handler Shannon Armstrong, is the likeliest reason for the decline in drug arrests. “I’m not a fool to think that we don’t have a drug problem here, just because we didn’t have any arrests last year,” he said. “But we lost our dog, and that dog was a heck of a tool in the battle against drugs.”
Looking at the big picture, Brenner said he never wants to see the department become “reactionary, where all you do is sit by the phone and wait for people to call. A lot of departments in Wyoming are like that. We want to be out, making sure we’re keeping the streets safe and crime free.”