SHERIDAN – Despite the influx of people and activity from the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, Sheridan County Law Enforcement had a relatively quiet weekend, with a significant decrease in arrests over the rodeo weekend of celebration, according to local law enforcement officials. Sheridan Police Department Captain Tom Ringley and Sheridan County Sheriff Allen Thompson agreed the decrease could be attributed to smaller, more centralized street-dancing festivities.
In years past, rodeo week has marked a busy time for local law enforcement, with additional calls for service or officer-initiated contact due to an influx of people and the consumption of ‘alcohol.
This year, however, rodeo week has been relatively quiet and hasn’t brought an influx of arrests or citations, Ringley and Thompson agreed.
The primary law enforcement agency tasked with maintaining security throughout the Sheridan WYO rodeo, SPD officers saw a decrease in arrests and calls for service throughout the weekend, Ringley said. Officers made just 19 arrests over rodeo weekend this year, compared to a weekend average of 45 arrests during rodeo weekends in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 , a decrease of 66%.
Likewise, while the SPD receives an average of 145 calls for service in any given weekend – from Thursday evening to Sunday morning – Ringley said the department only received 112 calls over the weekend. of this year’s rodeo.
“Officers commented on the lack of people who were visibly extremely intoxicated,” Ringley said. “There were a lot of people obviously having a good time, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits. We really had no problems.
The department also changed its patrol strategy ahead of the weekend, Ringley said. In previous rodeos, the SPD assigned several teams of officers to foot patrol downtown Sheridan, a strategy that largely limited the officers’ response capabilities in downtown Sheridan. This year, Ringley said the department deployed more two-officer patrol cars, rotating patrols around downtown, to ensure officers could respond to calls for duty anywhere in the city.
In addition to this shift in strategy, four officers from the Gillette Police Department supported SPD officers on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office had an equally light rodeo weekend, Thompson said. Throughout rodeo week — July 11 to July 17 — registration at the Sheridan County Detention Center fell to 37, from 49 during the same period last year. Even more surprising, Thompson said, only one person was incarcerated at the jail from Saturday noon to Sunday noon, a period that typically includes the Saturday night rowdiness.
“It’s significantly less than in the past,” Thompson said of the low number of arrests on Saturday night.
The sheriff’s office also hasn’t experienced major changes in its workload due to rodeo-related travelers, Thompson said. Although past rodeos have sometimes seen an increase in criminal activity from outsiders committing crimes in Sheridan County or targeting the influx of potential victims, Thompson said that was not the case. This year. Although some of weekend arrests involved people from outside Wyoming, most were residents of Sheridan or Johnson County.
“People coming into town just didn’t really have an impact on law enforcement,” Thompson said.
What could have caused the decline in rodeo-related law enforcement activity this year? Ringley and Thompson said the smaller events at individual businesses throughout the weekend — as opposed to the four-block Sheridan WYO Rodeo street dance — may have reduced the number of arrests.
These individual events likely drew smaller crowds than street dances five to 10 years ago, during which much of Main Street was blocked off, Thompson said, and Ringley complemented organizers’ refusal to over-serving events and providing alcohol to under-21s. All told, these changes in rodeo organization, coupled with responsible choices by Sheridanites and tourists, made for a relatively quiet week of rodeo for local law enforcement.
Margaret O’Hara is a reporter for The Sheridan Press.