Jackson, WY, Police Department to Send Homeless to Salt Lake City, UT

Riley McDonald | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Historic barn on Mormon Rd in Jackson, WY
Historic barn in Jackson, WY, picture: Melissa Cronin

Police officers in Jackson, WY, have stated their intent to send some homeless to Salt Lake City, UT. The Jackson Police Department received 12 calls regarding trespassing or illegal camping of the homeless within a two-week timeframe. Lt. Russ Ruschill claimed that his team has regularly encountered 15  homeless people since the weather started cooling off. He states that this is an unusually high number for this time of year; in a typical year they would only have about 10 homeless people.

The Jackson Police Department has done this in the past. Ruschill said that he knows of three homeless people that police officers have bought bus tickets to Salt Lake City for. However, this is not something they have kept a record of; it is uncertain how many they have bussed to Salt Lake City. 

The Jackson Police Department claims that they do not have the resources needed to help the homeless population. Due to this, Circuit Court Magistrate Christopher Leigh signed an order mandating that one of the homeless men who has cycled in and out of jail must enroll in Jackson’s 24/7 program to test for sobriety twice a day or transport to Salt Lake City for treatment. This order led to a lawsuit: The ACLU of Wyoming is currently suing Teton County in federal court, claiming requiring defendants to give twice-daily breath samples before they’re convicted is unconstitutional.”

Currently, Jackson Police will arrest homeless people who have been reported for trespassing; if it is a mental crisis they will transport them to a hospital, or they will partner with the Community Counseling Center or Salvation Army to assist them with a place to go. These inefficient management practices have led Lt. Ruschill to claim that bussing the homeless to Salt Lake City is for their safety since Salt Lake City has more resources.

Sustainable housing in Utah
Sustainable housing in downtown Salt Lake City, UT, picture: Salt Lake City Government Facebook

Salt Lake City Mayor, Erin Mendenhall, is not surprised by this announcement. She has been aware from anecdotal evidence that other cities, in and outside Utah, have been sending their homeless to Salt Lake City. Deseret News quotes Mendenhall: “… there are entirely not enough resources for a single city to support the homeless population of a whole state.” 

Salt Lake City certainly has more resources than Jackson, but does that mean they have enough? The state of Utah put the stamp of approval of $55 million to fund 1,078 affordable units, including 529 units for the homeless across the state. According to Deseret News, in September “Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall proposed $6 million in grants for 400 units of transitional and supportive housing — all to be built by April.” While these are significant steps to solve the problem at hand, Mendenhall and others agreed that this is still not enough to support the homeless community in Salt Lake City and Utah in general. 

The question stands: will sending homeless people from Jackson to Salt Lake City benefit them? Some activists claim that simply sending homeless people away to another city is inhumane, and therefore cannot be the answer to the problem. Meanwhile, others agree that Salt Lake City will offer more help than Jackson can. In the end, all parties agree that they want what is best for the homeless population and no one has ill intent with their ideas on how to resolve the issue at hand.

Homeless community photo
Homeless community, picture: Brandi Alexandra

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5 thoughts on “Jackson, WY, Police Department to Send Homeless to Salt Lake City, UT

  1. Homelessness is not really on topic here…… But OK, since you brought it up…you opened Snowbrains up to my blunt opinion on it!

    Q: Why does a town in another state get to simply export their problem elsewhere? And why don’t we have adequate health care and housing for everyone everywhere, regardless of economic and mental status?
    A: Homelessness is a national problem acerbated by numerous court cases (over the past 50 years) that emptied the warehouses which stored (and didn’t really treat) our mentally ill.
    Q Why did we do that?
    A: Because half the people in our supposedly God fearing Nation really don’t give a $#!+ about the poor and less fortunate. They have refused, time and time again, to enact rational nationalized health care and housing programs.

    Somebody once said you can judge a nation by how well it treats its less fortunate. Compared to other industrialized first world nations, we rate a grade of F.

  2. sNObrains is still trying to find it’s identity. Miles is will to test the waters and publish crap like this, because if it gets views. He will be able to ski for free even more. As I’ve said before, if we don’t look at these crappy stories, maybe they will go away? We both just gave Miles another view which equals another couple pennies towards his next ski adventure.

  3. Skiing….not Politics.
    How about invite the homeless to the SnowBrains home office?
    Or each writer’s house?

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