Wyoming, a sparsely populated state with a low unemployment rate, continues to enthusiastically seek public enemies. The most recent of those enemies is a chapter of the Sons of Sinners Motorcycle Club in Rock Springs, on Interstate 80 about 100 miles from the Utah state line. The Sons of Sinners maintains friendly relations with the much larger Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club.
The Green River (Wyoming) Star reports that the Sinners clubhouse has “blacked out windows” and “is visible from the nearby Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church.”
Dwane Pacheco, a spokesman for the Rock Springs Police conceded that the Sinners are not “raping and pillaging” yet.
Chris Steffen, the Chief of Police in Green River vowed that the “club will receive our undivided attention,” The Star also informs readers that “owning a motorcycle isn’t a crime” and that “wearing leather isn’t against the law because it functions as important safety equipment.” The paper also categorizes the Sons of Silence as a “Colorado-based criminal motorcycle group.”
All of Wyoming becomes hysterical at the mention of the word “gang” so police use the word frequently — particularly around budget time. About a year ago, Cheyenne formed “CAGE,” the Cheyenne Area Gang Enforcement team. CAGE, which comprises 12 sworn peace officers, “monitors and prevents gang related activity.” Last year CAGE “positively identified 109 gang members living in Laramie County.” Laramie County has a population of about 91,000 and an area of about 2,700 square miles – an area larger than both Delaware and Rhode Island.
Let’s Meet Wyoming
Serious crimes in Wyoming have generally declined for the last 18 years, from a peak of 20,737 serious crimes in 1995 down to 13,746 serious crimes in 2011 – a drop of about 50 percent. During the same period Wyoming’s population grew by about 17.5 percent.
There were a total of 15 homicides, including non-negligent manslaughters, in Wyoming last year and none of them have been proven to have had anything to do with any motorcycle club. Virtually none of the homicides were whodunits.
“Bartender was restraining a drunk male that was starting fights with people. Bartender choked drunk male to death,” is how a report describes a homicide in Casper in January 2011. The homicide in Douglas last August is described as “Domestic Assault; Victim strangled by the suspect.” In Riverton that same month, “Subjects were in town for training and were staying at a local motel where they got into an argument. Suspect shot the victim one time.”
Last year Wyoming spent $406 million on police, $210 million to run its courts and $266 million to run its prisons. Wyoming now has a population of about 568,000 so last year every man, woman, child and baby in Wyoming spent about $1,553 to lock people up and throw away the key. Wyoming currently has a state debt of about $2.5 billion or about $4,400 per state resident per year. These figures do not include expenditures for federal police and federal courts.
Surprisingly, the question of whether Wyoming families should spend $6,200 every year to try to catch clubs like the Sons of Sinners doing something illegal is not a matter of public debate in the state.