As Wyoming prepares to welcome visitors from across the globe for the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21, law enforcement professionals are working with state and local agencies to implement strategies to promote public safety during the once-in-a-lifetime event.
“It is estimated that the state’s population may double as hundreds of thousands of people travel to Wyoming to experience the eclipse,” said Natrona County Sheriff Gus Holbrook, a member of the board of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police (WASCOP). “We are grateful to Governor Matt Mead who has been working hard to make sure federal, state, and local agencies work together to safely accommodate all the visitors to our state.”
From Jackson to Torrington, more than a dozen cities in Wyoming are in the “path of totality,” the narrow path across the earth’s surface where viewers will experience the total eclipse of the sun when the moon passes in front of its surface. Because of the state’s wide-open spaces, clear skies, and spectacular scenery, it is one of the top destinations in the world for people seeking the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the eclipse.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation is shutting down highway construction projects in the state for a few days leading up to, and following the eclipse. Through its Traffic Safety Project (TSP) WASCOP is working with the Wyoming Office of Highway Safety and the Governor’s Commission on Impaired Driving to identify strategies to address traffic and other safety issues.
“We strongly encourage people to arrive at least one or two days early and stay within walking distance of where they will view the eclipse to avoid getting caught in traffic jams,” said Sheriff Holbrook. “While every effort will be made to keep traffic moving smoothly, trying to drive into the area the morning of the eclipse will likely result in experiencing it while sitting in a traffic jam.”
Sheriff Holbrook added that traffic laws will be strictly enforced and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be tolerated on Wyoming’s roadways. He added that, while other nearby states including Colorado have legalized marijuana, laws against drug possession in Wyoming will be strictly enforced.
“Medical marijuana is not legal in Wyoming, and even if you have a card from another state it is still illegal to possess marijuana in Wyoming,” he explained. “If you are caught with any controlled substance you will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug offense depending upon, among other things, how much of that substance you have in your possession.”
WASCOP has established the There is No Debate Marijuana Community Awareness campaign to help educate residents and others about the harms that the drug caused to people and communities in the state. For more information, visit www.ThereIsNoDebate.org
A website has been established at That’s Wyoming that includes viewing locations, activities, and accommodations and campgrounds to help people plan their visits to the state.
“We hope people will come to Wyoming to experience the incredible beauty and quality of life in our state,” said Sheriff Holbrook. “On behalf of the women and men of WASCOP dedicated to serving and protecting residents and visitors in our state, we promise to do everything possible to ensure you will have a safe and enjoyable visit.”