Though it falls short of activists' calls to defund local law enforcement, commissioners did take a tentative step towards reimagining policing in Jackson Hole Tuesday.
The board approved $10,000 for some sort of interagency law enforcement task force and assessment in its Tuesday morning budget hearing.
"It's something I've certainly been mulling over and considering what the next step is in determining our path forward," Chair Natalia D. Macker said during the meeting.
As a national movement for police reform accelerated after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, a new activist group, Act Now JH, has spent the past four or so weeks lobbying commissioners to defund county law enforcement and spend those dollars on social services. Their campaign was on the Teton County Board of County Commissioners' mind Tuesday, even though the step they took was relatively minor fiscally.
"I really commend the folks from Act Now JH for bringing this to the committee's attention," Commissioner Luther Propst said.
What a task force and a potential law enforcement assessment will look like is very much up in the air, but the funds allocated will likely fund facilitating a preliminary conversation among members of the public who have a stake in the issue. The details of who will be included and what will be discussed should be ironed out in later commission meetings.
When Commissioner Mark Newcomb started listing off people and organizations to include in the conversation — Teton County Sheriff's Office, Jackson Police Department, Act Now JH and other representatives of the county's social service sector — Macker suggested pumping the brakes. The commissioners had a multi-hour budget meeting ahead of them.
"Let’s not form the task force today," she said.
This is a developing story. Pick up a copy of Wednesday's News&Guide for a full dive into the county's budget discussion.