An appropriate response
December 11, 2019
We at the Saratoga Sun would like to applaud Hanna Marshal Jeff Neimark and extend to him our gratitude.
Last week, the Sun reported on an incident that took place in Medicine Bow involving an armed suspect. For approximately 20 years, this small town at the intersection of Carbon, Natrona and Albany counties has been without local law enforcement and has relied upon the Carbon County Sheriff’s Department. While they are attempting to get a law enforcement program started again, Medicine Bow is left unprepared for situations such as the one that took place in November.
It is entirely possible, though unlikely, that Neimark could not have offered his services to the sheriff’s office. Upon hearing the call about the armed suspect and knowing that it wasn’t his jurisdiction, he could have let a deputy from the sheriff’s office respond and stayed in Hanna. We are glad that he chose to respond, however, as he probably saved lives and stopped more property damage.
At a time when nearly every road in Wyoming was closed due to winter-like weather, the incident with the armed suspect also occurred when schools in the north part of Carbon County School District No. 2 (CCSD2) had implemented their special attendance policy.
We would like to commend Neimark for calling for the lockdown of Medicine Bow Elementary School. During a normal day, an incident such as this would have put both students and staff of the elementary school at risk. Due to the weather, however, the elementary school was also host to students and staff from Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow High School.
Neimark’s call for a lockdown of the elementary school was an important decision that would have likely saved lives had the armed suspect made his way to the building.
The Saratoga Sun would also like to commend Neimark for his decision to switch from lethal to less-than-lethal firearms upon responding to the scene. When responding to a call, law enforcement often can be unsure what type of force is needed. Knowing that the suspect was armed, had already shown a tendency to violence and had allegedly taken a hostage, the marshal could have responded with justifiably lethal force.
In addition to the armed suspect, it was reported that citizens of Medicine Bow had armed themselves as they were unsure when law enforcement would arrive. Taking this into consideration, we believe that Neimark’s decision to switch to less-than-lethal firearms prevented the situation from escalating.
Finally, we believe that this recent situation in Medicine Bow should be seen as a lesson for other small communities. Medicine Bow had been able to rely on the Carbon County Sheriff’s Department in the past for law enforcement due to its remote location. The influx of wind energy projects in recent months, however, has necessitated the town restart their law enforcement program.
We would encourage other small Wyoming communities to work to maintain and retain their law enforcement programs.
We also encourage anyone who sees Hanna Marshal Jeff Neimark to thank him for his response and his decisions in this situation.