CWC hears from criminal justice officials on how it can help with substance abuse issues

Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts addressed spoke at Central Wyoming College's community dialogue dinner last week. (Joshua Scheer photo)

Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley Roberts addressed spoke at Central Wyoming College’s community dialogue dinner last week. (Joshua Scheer photo)

By Joshua Scheer, reporter,

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees held a community dialogue dinner last week to get thoughts on what criminal justice officials see as the college’s role in aiding their agencies.

Representatives from the Riverton and Lander police departments, as well as the courts, Department of Family Services and Fremont County Youth Services participated in the discussion.

Riverton Circuit Court Judge Wesley A. Roberts got the ball rolling by saying the prevailing issues locally are abuse of drugs and alcohol, including what he sees as a rising use of methamphetamine.

Riverton Police Chief Mike Broadhead said his officers are seeing more bud-form marijuana due to its legalization in Colorado. He said this versus shredded and blended marijuana contains a higher THC content. THC is the active intoxicant in marijuana.

“The abuse of opiates is really on the rise,” he said. Specifically, Broadhead noted prescription drugs such as oxycodone. He said heroin could make a come back as prescription drugs are more heavily regulated.

Because alcohol is “so readily available,” Broadhead said it was a factor in 87 percent of the department’s calls last year. He called alcohol the “number one problem.”

Lander Police Chief Jim Carey agreed with Broadhead. He said alcohol was a factor in 71 percent of LPD’s calls in 2011. He also said there’s been an increase in prescription medication problems.

CWC Dean for Workforce and Community Education Lynn McAuliffe then asked if there are any strategies in place to tackle these problems and what role CWC might have in aiding progress.

Carey’s first suggestion was to continue working to curb college partying.

Broadhead then spoke about cooperation with businesses. He said discussions years ago with drive-up liquor windows were “aggressively hostile.” Some liquor stores are working with police, and others never call RPD because they tend to handle problems themselves.

He also said those working to curb the alcohol problem need to have the attitude, “It ain’t OK to get drunk every night.” He also said social service agencies need to work better together rather than worrying about competing for funds.

Where CWC comes in, Broadhead said, is to be a leader in the discussions where creative solutions can be discussed. A Department of Family Services representative suggested giving kudos to student leaders.

Roberts talked about the difficulties of appropriately sentencing Driving Under the Influence offenders, providing treatment and keeping the general public safe. He said more focus needs to be given to success cases.

Youth Services director Chuck Kratz said substance abuse comes down to community norms. He said CWC could focus on young people and altering community norms of drinking to excess. This would include, he said, continuing programs like Second Wind, which trains former juvenile offenders.