Volume 106, Number 8 - February 19, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Stephen Crane
After the annual report from the Pinedale Municipal Court showed a significant drop in citations for 2008, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) produced numbers of its own that reveal a different perspective.
The SCSO is tasked with the responsibility of juggling three different court jurisdictions, including the municipal court, the circuit court and the district court.
“That’s the biggest difference between Sublette County and the rest of the state,” said Sublette County Sheriff Wayne “Bardy” Bardin. “They have one to three police departments (as well as the sheriff’s department), and we only have one sheriff’s office. When we get new people in here, they say, ‘How do you do this?’
“If we were just doing what the sheriff in other communities do, we would just deal with the state statutes and one judge and court.”
The annual report from the Pinedale Municipal Court showed a 25 percent drop in overall citations in 2008, based on the average of the last 18 years.
Those numbers are indeed accurate, but they do not take into account the citations issued by the SCSO that are not directed to the municipal court.
In fact, based on the five-year average of citations issued by SCSO, 2008 saw a 2.6 percent increase, totaling 1,711 throughout the county and up from the five-year average of 1,667.
In Pinedale specifically, 350 citations were issued in 2008, which is a 64 percent increase from the five-year average of 213.
The SCSO also provided the number of warnings issued for the last five years in its citation report, which demonstrated an added element of law enforcement.
“There’s probably more warnings issued than citations,” said Bardin. “I let our officers use their own discretion, and they’re very good at that.
“It gives the deputy time to visit with the driver and let them know what they’re doing wrong.”
The warnings issued in 2008 did, in fact, outweigh the citations, not only in Pinedale but in the county as well.
Throughout Sublette County, the SCSO issued 10 percent more warnings than citations, totaling 1,878, which is a one-percent increase from the five-year average.
In Pinedale, 44 percent more warnings were issued than citations, totaling 503 for the year.
The five-year average of warnings over citations issued in Pinedale, however, is 82 percent, leading to the conclusion that in 2008, more citations and fewer warnings were written in Pinedale than in years past, based on the percentages.
The SCSO report did not provide a detailed breakdown for the type of citation issued, whereas the municipal court report did, which showed a five-year low for speeding tickets issued in Pinedale.
According to Bardin, this drop can be accounted for due to local awareness.
“When we’re in one part of town running radar, (residents) know we’re there,” said Bardin. “They’re not going to be running past us.”
He also responded to local complaints that not enough crosswalk tickets are issued.
“I’ve had people call me, asking why we don’t write more crosswalk tickets, and if we see them, we certainly do,” said Bardin. “But the crosswalk ordinance is past tense.
“And the main offenders are those from out of state and out of county, who are used to (traffic) lights.”
Despite the complaints that accompany any office of public service, Sheriff Bardin is proud of his team and supports their efforts.
“I’ve got to stand behind my folks,” said Bardin. “These guys are going from call to call, and I think they do an excellent job out there.”
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