Wyoming news briefs for December 29

Jackson police will enforce business mask mandates

JACKSON — The Jackson Police Department will still handle people who violate businesses’ mask requirements after the Teton County mask mandate expires, Jackson Police Department Chief Michelle Weber said.

Weber also said that businesses should be proactive to avoid having to involve law enforcement. That includes posting clearly written directives to wear masks, handing out masks for free and asking customers to leave before calling authorities.

“I would encourage businesses — if they want people to wear masks — to have somebody handing masks out right at the entrance to their business,” she said.

While that strategy takes an effort, Weber said, it goes a long way to save time and reduces the chance of an escalating situation if somebody chooses not to wear a mask.

“You can’t just expect people to bring masks with them when there’s no mask mandate, and then not supply the masks and expect people to wear them,” she said.

If people remain in the business without wearing a mask, they will be issued a trespass notice for staying in the business when they were asked to leave — not specifically for not wearing a mask.

Instances of police issuing a trespass notice to unmasked people who refuse to leave businesses are few if any, but the potential came up when Town Councilor Arne Jorgensen said that police will be willing and able to issue trespass notices to people who violate business mask requirements.


Fremont County officials investigate jail death

RIVERTON — A 47-year-old man died in his cell at the Fremont County Detention Center on Christmas Day of an “apparent suicide,” officials said. 

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office dispatched a statement Monday noting that the man was found in his cell Saturday evening. 

The man’s name was not released Monday, “pending notification of family members.” 

The Ranger has received unconfirmed reports of the man’s identity, but official notification had not been made by press time Tuesday afternoon. 

FSO “is investigating the incident in conjunction with the Lander Police Department and the Fremont County Coroner’s Office,” notes the statement. 

According to the LPD call log, a suicide was reported from the jail at 6:32 that evening, after a male subject “attempted to hang himself.” 


Douglas police officer found dead, no crime suspected

DOUGLAS — A seven-year veteran officer of the Douglas Police Department was found dead Sunday evening. 

The DPD announced officer Michael Ableman had passed away on its social media page but did not provide any details and said no further information would be released out of respect for the family. 

DPD Chief Todd Byerly confirmed the state Division of Criminal Investigation was called in to oversee the case because it involved an officer and an unattended death, but he noted no crime was suspected. 

Abelman worked for the DPD since June 2014 and had worked for the Casper Police Department from 2005-2014. He was 42 years old and was originally from Pueblo, Colorado, according to his social media posts.


FBI warns of strip search scam

TORRINGTON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Denver released a statement warning local news entities of an apparent ongoing scam to defraud women in Colorado and Wyoming. 

The alleged scammers are reported to be calling women while impersonating local law enforcement officers and asking for money, gift cards and sometimes videos or pictures of the women performing strip searches of themselves. The callers tell their victims there is an outstanding warrant or fine for them, and they can send gift cards or transfer money over the phone. 

“The FBI warns citizens that if they receive a phone call from someone claiming to be law enforcement asking for money or gift cards, to hang up and report it to their local law enforcement authorities and the FBI,” the release quotes FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider as saying. 

The scammers are reported to be using the names of real officers in the victims’ communities as an added measure of convincing them of the legitimacy of the scam. The FBI reports more than 300 women in Larimer County, Colorado and more than 100 in Denver have fallen victim to this scam between the years of 2016 and 2021. 

Torrington Police Chief Matt Johnson urges caution when receiving an alleged call from local law enforcement. 

“People need to feel empowered to ask questions, and they need to be empowered to confirm information before they give things out,” he said.