By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com
Part three of a series
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Solving the public intoxication problem in Riverton will not occur overnight, and this month a Solutions Committee looking for remedies heard just how difficult it can be for just one person.
At the same time, the committee heard of a breakthrough in moving people through to treatment options.
The Solutions Committee was formed by Riverton Police Chief Mike Broadhead and a wide variety of community programs to tackle the ongoing issue. Broadhead has repeatedly said the public intoxication issue faced in the county’s largest city is not a law enforcement problem. “People want the police department to solve something that we just don’t have the tools to solve,” he said. “The solution is a multi-disciplinary approach, and the police have only a small part in that.”
Broadhead said that he had met with the Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Court and an agreement had been reached that the Tribal Court will now accept municipal convictions in Riverton for Tribal members. After two or more such convictions within the span of 30 days, as long as one of them occurs on the Reservation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs would reportedly pay 100 percent for treatment for that individual, Broadhead said.
“So that means we need to get copies of our convictions to the Tribal Court. At least now we have a mechanism in process to help people with treatment,” he reported. “Both Judge St. Clair and Judge Miller said they understood that public intoxication is a community problem and that they have a piece of the solution. I was very encouraged to hear that.”
The Chief said by working together, solutions will be found. “I believe that treatment is the solution rather than punitive (law enforcement) action,” he said. “It will make a difference.”
It was agreed, however, that treatment would only work for those who decide the time is right for them. “We can have a serious impact with the overall numbers we are dealing with, but we need to find out how to get more than one person at a time through the pipeline,” Broadhead said.
That is the crux of the problem. For one man who just this past week was admitted to an out of state treatment center, the process to get him there began months ago, and it all started over a cup of coffee during a street outreach effort.
The man, whose identity is confidential due to medical privacy laws, received one-on-one assistance beginning in October of 2012. His story will be part four of our series.