Gang issues told: Reservation road signs destroyed; County detention center incidents rising
(Lander, Wyo.) – Gang activity is on the rise in the county again, especially on the Wind River Indian Reservation where road signs have been damaged and destroyed and at the county detention center in Lander where problems have been reported.
Clarence Thomas, whose county commission district encompasses much of the Reservation, complained Tuesday that many road signs on the Trout Creek, North Fork and South Fork roads out of Fort Washakie have been vandalized or town down. “Gang movement is on the rise with related increases in drug and prostitution,” he said. “The vandalized property belongs to Fremont County. “Both Tribes chairmen are saying they need to help take care of those signs, it’s a safety issue.”
Thomas said he feared the damage to the signs might result in someone t-boning someone else in an intersection, miss a turn, or lead to a crash.
Sheriff Skip Hornecker reported that Reservation representation already exists on a countywide anti-gang task force, but that more support from the Tribes would be welcome. “We’re seeing an increase in gang related activity in our detention center, we have a volatile inmate population now, gang related,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of it, we’ve had a couple altercations inside the detention center within the last couple weeks that were gang-related. I believe your comment is accurate,” he said responding to Thomas.
“We’ve had a long-time problem with graffiti and vandalism to our signs,” County Road Superintendent Dave Pendleton said. “It’s a serious issue.”
On the positive side, Thomas said there are several youth groups on the reservation that have volunteered to help clean the signs and undo some of the damage. Pendleton said the county coats the signs with a substance that should make them easier to clean, but that they have been tagged so often they are getting harder and harder to clean.