Wyoming sheriff entices Denver police officers with giant billboard after mayor slashes funding

Denver police officers who may be “frustrated” with the city’s recent budget slashes are invited to the Cowboy State where breaking the law is “still illegal.”

A recruitment effort by a Wyoming sheriff was launched after the Denver mayor slashed its police department budget by $8 million purportedly to deal with the migrant crisis in the Colorado sanctuary city.

A billboard placed near downtown Denver by the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office  reads: “Work in Wyoming where breaking the law is STILL ILLEGAL & cops are funded!”

(Laramie County Sheriff’s Office)

“We do enforce the rules and the law, and I want people to know about Wyoming — that’s our culture here,” Laramie County Sheriff Brian Kozak told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “And statewide, communities do support law enforcement. There’s no doubt about that.”

Laramie County Chief Deputy Aaron Veldheer moved from Eagle County, Colorado, to Wyoming, telling the news outlet that it was “because crime is illegal here.”

“And I worked for a great agency in Colorado. I’ve got no complaints about them,” Veldheer said. “Just the General Assembly (Colorado Legislature) makes it so the cops are the bad guys.”

Denver Mayor Mike Johnstone announced the police department cuts last month as part of an overall $45 million cut from city agency budgets as a reported cost of $180 million is needed to shelter incoming migrants this year.

“For the Denver Police Department to plug their new $8.4 million budget gap, the force will need to stop hiring any new recruits. The fire department will also be cut by $2.5 million,” Daily Mail noted. “While the city grapples with tens of thousands of migrant arrivals, city leaders have also recently faced off with the migrants as they refuse to move from an illegal encampment, and say they won’t do so until 13 demands are met.”

Kozak indicated that he got a substantial discount on the cost of the billboard because the person who made the sale was reportedly unhappy with Denver’s move to slash the police budget.

While billboards typically cost about $8,000 per month, Kozak secured the current spot near the South Pecos Street and West Alameda Avenue intersection for $2,500 for one month.

In what he described as an “unheard-of” hiring spree, the sheriff indicated that his department hired 72 people last year but there are still eight patrol positions and 17 detention positions available to be filled. The department had a $40,000 recruiting budget given by Laramie County.

“That’s less than half of what the salary is for one employee, versus my overtime budget last year was $1.3 million,” Kozak told Cowboy StateDaily. “So, we’ve got to get aggressive on our recruiting efforts to save money and hire people, and eliminate that overtime budget.”

Besides the budget cuts in Denver, officers may be feeling contained by additional regulations as Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas indicated that stopping divers for low-level traffic violations was essentially time-consuming and ineffective. This month, Denver lawmakers passed legislation banning officers from making low-level traffic stops.

Back in 2020, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation that removed qualified immunity for officers, adding to the many reasons cops may be looking to get out of the city.

“We already have enough struggles in recruiting and retaining in this profession,” Sheridan Police Chief Travis Koltiska told Cowboy StateDaily in praising the new recruiting billboard.

“If we can attract quality candidates to Wyoming to bolster law enforcement, I think it’s a win,” he added.

Frieda Powers


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