Casper City Council addressed on Bird Scooter usage and possible CPD armored vehicle purchase

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 12:08 AM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - At their Tuesday August 9, meeting the Casper city council was addressed by a representative from the Bird Scooter Company on the riding habits of Casper citizens over the past year. Bird representative Taylor Kenney noted that out of the 400 cities that the company services Casper has a ridership that is well above average. The companies average ride time is about 1 mile per ride and a 10 minute drive time, but in Casper the company is seeing riders travel an average of almost three miles while riding for almost 25 minutes.

The company has already doubled their presence in Casper since they first brought in scooters, going from 100 to 200 units, but they are hoping to bring in even more after seeing these numbers. One reason they would like to have more on the road in Casper is because at any given time half of the fleet is taken back to charging stations and aren’t usable.

“We’re always charging them and bringing them in so there’s this swapping going on. We see demand, especially with those rides per riders being high enough, that we would like to increase the amount of vehicles that we have in the community,” said Taylor.

The company also has the ability to Geo-fence spaces around the city so that the scooters can not be used there. Some places like this include parking garages and school zones.

Later in the meeting the Council was addressed by Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters on the possibility of purchasing a new armored vehicle for the department. It would act as a form of protection for officers and civilians in the case of a police involved shooting. The Chief noted that in the past the CPD used to only experience one police involved shooting an average of every four years, but they have already seen eight police involved shootings in the past four years.

The Chief also noted that Natrona County does have one of these vehicles but it is not owned by the Police Department. This means that it could be unavailable to the Department in the case of an emergency. He also stated that any city Casper’s size would most likely be expected to have equipment such as this.

Council members debated moving forward with allowing the department to look further into the purchase because they believe that the vehicle could possibly cause some discomfort or dismay in the Casper community. Others believed that a purchase of this kind may be necessary to keep officers and community members safe in the event of an extreme incident.

Some members of Council felt that the money that would go toward the vehicle could be used, instead, for mental health therapy for officers and other first responders. “It does make me wonder if an investment like this might be better spent addressing mental health concerns or some of the more intangible outcomes that we’d like to see from the department,” said Councilman Kyle Gamroth. He noted that according to some studies he had found that possibly twice as many first responders die by suicide than in the line of duty, “As somebody who appreciates the data and evaluates the data I do wonder whether our money could be better spent elsewhere if the goal is to save the lives of our first responders.”

Others found that it could be a necessary addition the the force. “These have saved peoples lives in the past, it’s not just our first responders who we’re trying to save, it’s individuals that are in situations that have to be evacuated out of those situations to save their lives. So to me it’s money well spent,” said Vice Mayor Steve Freel who had served with the CPD.

The purchase of a new vehicle would cost the city upward of $170,000 that would be used from the opportunity fund. All Council members in attendance, with the exception of Kyle Gamroth, gave approval for the CPD to move forward in negotiations with the purchase of a 2006 Lenco Bearcat G2 armored vehicle.

Following this discussion the council heard from representatives from the Hogadon ski basin on an update from the previous years activity and how a rate change may be in order for the future. They also heard about the use of a mental health application that will be available to all Casper city employees including police, firefighters, and general workers called “Cordico Wellness App”.

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