Wyoming police say homeless people aren’t being forcibly sent to SLC on buses

Nov 3, 2022, 8:00 PM | Updated: Nov 4, 2022, 3:41 pm
A story in a Wyoming newspaper recently reported how homeless people in Jackson were being sent on ...
A story in a Wyoming newspaper recently reported how homeless people in Jackson were being sent on buses to Salt Lake City. Police in Wyoming say they can't legally do that. However, the winter months in Wyoming can be lethal if you don't have proper housing. Jackson police also say they have limited resources.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Wyoming newspaper reported earlier this week that homeless people were being bused to Salt Lake City, but the newspaper later corrected its statement.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported on Wednesday that a circuit judge in Teton County has been issuing release orders that individuals without homes should be sent to Salt Lake City, if they are being jailed on a regular basis. 

A correction from the Jackson Hole News and Guide was published on Thursday however, saying that a Teton County circuit court judge did not write a release order including instructions to go to Salt Lake City. A different court official ordered a man to enroll in a sobriety program or to go to Salt Lake for medical treatment.

Lt. Russ Ruschill, with the Jackson Police Department, said law enforcement can’t intentionally export anyone to any location.

“We don’t have the ability to export anybody,” he said. “We have to follow the constitution of the United States, state statute. And people are free to come and go as they choose.”

Few options for homeless people

According to Ruschill, the winter months in that part of Wyoming can be lethal without proper housing. He said the temperature can drop to minus 20 degrees.

Ruschill said officers “have a laundry list of all these things, these resources that we can help folks with.”

And one of those resources can be something like a bus ticket.

The number of instances where people have been sent to Utah appear to be few and far between. Ruschill said he can think of one individual last summer, who they helped get a ticket for. And a couple of people from the summer before were also assisted in getting bus tickets. 

Mark Jones contributed to this article.

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Wyoming police say homeless people aren’t being forcibly sent to SLC on buses