Casper City Council Discusses DEA Grants
During the Casper City Council work session, the chief of police, Keith McPheeters, attempted to dispel some rumors and provide data on the grants given to the Casper police Department (CPD) by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In the last two days in March, the CPD was given a grant for $35,000, of which $10,067 has been used according to information from McPheeters, to help catch people carrying illegal drugs, including marijuana, around Casper.
McPheeters also discussed three other operations that the CPD has used federal money to help address traffic violations.
One was in February with $2,790, another in March with $10,905, and a third was in April with $7,755, and with each case nearly all the money has since been used up.
Several council members, including Kyle Gamroth and Shawn Johnson, have expressed some worry about the focus on cannabis with the grant being used for the end of March, called the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program Grant Fund.
McPheeters clarified that the money received from the DEA has was only used to pay police officers to go to places in Casper with high rates of traffic accidents to help reduce the risk of accidents.
Gamroth said he appreciates the work the police have done, but felt the focus on cannabis in naming the grant didn't look good, considering the stigmatization surrounding the drug.
McPheeter said he understands the need to focus on mental health issues as well, and that it improves the community when the police take drugs off the streets.
Johnson said he also appreciates the work done by the CPD, but felt it was important to mention the large amount of fourth amendment violations that happen, and that the police are doing what they can to balance enforcing the law while keeping citizens civil rights intact.
Mayor Steve Freel said it is important for CPD to have access to the DEA grants as it allows them to do their job, and that getting rid of the grants is the wrong approach.
"The moment we sit there and look at something like that and say 'we don't like the word cannabis there, so maybe we shouldn't use that one,' well all these other grants that are used...do we not use any of these grants that are offered to us? we start doing a thing called defund the police, and that's the wrong way to go."