An In-Depth Analysis of How Police Chief Wyomings Ranchlands Lost a Generation

Introduction: Understanding the Need for Action in Wyomings Ranchlands

Over the last five years, three people were murdered on the ranchlands, another was raped and two others were shot. Many of the murders were never solved. This is not a new problem.
Rural violence has plagued Wyoming for a long time and authorities have long been concerned about the safety of rural citizens. It’s important to note that this issue is not limited to rural areas. There are towns, both in-state and out-of-state, where crime rates have skyrocketed over the last few decades.
Authorities have long been concerned about the safety of rural citizens, who feel overlooked and underserved by government services.
Over the last five years, three people were murdered on the ranchlands, another was raped and two others were shot. One result of this violence has been a growing sense of frustration among rural Wyoming citizens. This is not a new problem.

how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost
how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost

What is the Problem with Policing That Led to One of the Worst Crime Rates in America?

Wyoming, with a population of around 700,000, has an estimated 1,700 police officers to cover over 600 square miles.1 The population density is about 500 people per square mile.2 While this number of officers may sound high, in absolute terms the size of Wyoming is similar to that of suburban areas in America and appears low relative to other states like Colorado which has a population around 5 million but has almost double the area that Wyoming has to cover with more than twice the number of law enforcement officers.3 The number of officers per square mile in Wyoming is 12 times lower than in Colorado and is one of the worst ratios in America when compared to other states.4 There are 2.6 police officers per 1000 people, or 1 officer per every 489 people.5 The ratio is consistent across the state with there being one officer for every 489 people in the Park City area, one for every 519 in Sweetwater and one for every 535 in Rock Springs. In some areas of Wyoming there are more officers than residents.6
The ratio of police officers to residents is disproportionate to other states. Colorado has 488 officers per 1000 people, Washington has 454, Montana has 449.8, Nevada has 446.3, Oregon has 423.9, and Utah has 389.1 police officers per 1000 people; some of these states are close to double the number of officers per 1000 citizens as Wyoming is.7
It is not just how many police officers Wyoming has that is concerning but what those numbers mean in terms of actual presence on the street. A city-level view of Wyoming in terms of the ratio of officers to citizens shows that there is only one police officer for every 392 people (1:392).8

how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost
how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost

How Has Police Chief Pat Krut’s Approach Unprecedented Crime Reduction Over a 10-Year Period?

Chief Pat Krit has been the police chief in Wyoming for the past 10 years. Under Chief Krit’s leadership, Wyoming has seen a reduction in serious crimes which have dropped by 48% over a 10-year period.6 The decline in violent crime rates is even more significant at 55%.7 In neighboring Colorado, however, with a comparable population and an almost identical number of officers, there wa a slight but notable increase in violent crime during the same period, a 7% jump in violent crime.8 This difference between Wyoming and Colorado should be a cause for concern because it is important to look at what is happening in our neighboring state. If it is happening in their police departments, what can we learn from them?
In 2011 in Colorado, there were 10,818 reported violent crimes. This rate was down 0.5% from 2010.9 In Wyoming, there were 7,922 violent crimes in 2011 and the number was down 2.6% from 2010. This means that even though Colorado had a slightly larger population than Wyoming (7.4 million vs 6.4 million) and experienced a more significant increase in violent crime, Wyoming actually had a lower violent crime rate than Colorado by 6.1%.10 This is a significant difference, especially since the number of police officers in Colorado has increased by just over one-third since 2001, while the number of police officers in Wyoming has increased by over half since 2001.11
This should be cause for concern especially seeing that there are virtually no differences between how both states handle repeat offenders. Both Colorado and Wyoming automatically give a mandatory prison sentence to people convicted more than once of being a felon in possession of a firearm.12

how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost
how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost

Conclusion/What Can We Learn From This Case Study?

Wyoming is not a poor state and yet the violent crime rate is dramatically lower in Wyoming than in many more affluent states. This points to several possible explanations for the difference but I believe the main one is that Wyoming has a better police chief than Colorado. I would venture to say that the police chief makes a massive difference in the crime rate. It is clear that Wyoming has a chief with a different approach than Colorado and I hope we can learn from their experience. The lesson that I hope we can take away here is that it is important to have a police force that is focused on crime prevention and community policing, not one focused on responding to crime or even catching criminals. This is what I believe the primary difference between Wyoming and Colorado is. The amount of time and resources spent on preventing and responding to crimes in Colorado largely accounts for the difference in violent crime rate.
I believe that if there were no money spent on trying to catch criminals or respond to crimes then violent crimes would decrease by a dramatic degree.

how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost
how police chief wyomings ranchlands lost