Jackson task force continues work to strengthen police/community relationships

JACKSON (WNE) — In its third meeting, a task force examining local law enforcement’s relationship with the community and social services heard from a consultant who has led similar initiatives across the country.

Jake Jacobs, president of The Illumination Project, gave an hour-long presentation Monday morning that highlighted work he’s done in Charleston, South Carolina and Louisville, Kentucky.

“Our organization has worked in several communities around the country on this issue and the opportunity of further strengthening police/citizen relationships,” Jacobs told the committee in a Zoom meeting.

The idea for the committee came up over the summer after the Teton County Board of County Commissioners heard public comment from residents who advocated taking money from law enforcement budgets and allocating it to human services — advocacy efforts often labeled as defunding the police.

The decision came after a sustained campaign organized by activist group Act Now JH that formed in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing by police in Minneapolis. The group attended county meetings in force throughout the end of June, lobbying commissioners to defund law enforcement’s patrol budgets and divert those funds to social services.

After receiving several applications from members of the public and conducting interviews, county commissioners voted to commit $14,000 to the project and appointed five people to the committee.

The committee has since added one or two members and after hearing from Jacobs the group agreed they should add more Hispanic participants. There was also discussion of creating a more formal project with a steering committee and doing community surveys.

A full-blown project in a smaller community can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000, Jacobs said.

The committee’s recommendations will be formed into a request for proposal for another stage of assessment.


Bigford stabbing case bound over for trial in state district court

DOUGLAS (WNE) – A Glenrock man was charged Dec. 29 with three counts of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon after a stabbing Nov. 8.

Kenneth Bigford, 35, was arrested after Glenrock police responded to an early morning stabbing in the parking lot of Glenrock Jr./Sr. High School, around 4:13 a.m. last November, according to Glenrock Police Chief David Theel.

The first officer on scene found the victim, Kody Hill, 31, and Bigford, the alleged attacker, at the scene.

Bigford was subsequently arrested and taken to Converse County Joint Justice Center, according to court documents. Both men are from Glenrock.

Hill was treated on the scene then transported to Wyoming Medical Center in Casper for further treatment.

Hill was stabbed three times, in the arm, leg and abdomen, according to the affidavit.

Each count of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine.

Bigford has been bound over to the Eight Judicial District Court to stand trial.

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