Hollingshead Responds To Kozak ”Criminal Sanctuary” Comments
Hollingshead says the jail had an obligation to keep inmates safe from COVID 19, and that failing to do so would have left the county "in a position of extreme liability" if someone had died from the virus.
Kozak made his comments on Saturday at an event kicking off his 2022 campaign for Sheriff of Laramie County. Hollingshead, who is a Captain in charge of the Detention Center with the Sheriff's Office, is also running for sheriff.
In his remarks, Kozak said the jail had been refusing to book people on warrants for property crimes because of concerns about COVID 19. He said that while the policy had recently changed for felony warrants, it remained in effect for those wanted on misdemeanor property crime warrants.
Kozak, who served as the city's police chief from 2010 through 2020, said the effect was to make Cheyenne a "sanctuary city for criminals" where they knew they would be safe from arrest.
Hollingshead, in a Facebook message to Townsquare Media of Cheyenne on Wednesday evening, included the following comments:
"Due to the continued high numbers of COVID cases in Laramie County, we had an obligation to continue following the guidance of the CDC and County health officials. If we were to go against this guidance, we would be exhibiting deliberate indifference to the safety of the inmates in the jail that are in our care which would put the county into a position of extreme liability should one of the inmates come down with COVID and succumb to the virus.
By following the guidelines as we have, even if we have an inmate die from the virus we can show that we did everything within our ability to ensure the welfare of the inmates in the jail and it would be less likely for a lawsuit to be successful. As the Jail Administrator, it is my obligation to balance public safety, with the safety of the inmates as well as the staff in the jail... we have been reviewing our policies throughout the pandemic and have modified them when appropriate. Last June when COVID seemed to be dying down, we consulted with the county health department and started opening things back up a bit and allowed more inmates into the jail.
But when we were hit with the DELTA variant, we had to lock it back down again and had county health come in and help us review our procedures to ensure we were not missing anything."
Hollingshead also said other jails around the region in areas with high COVID rates were following the same 14-day quarantine policy for new inmates as the Laramie County Detention Center.
Kozak on Saturday said City of Cheyenne crime stats show burglaries are up by 86 percent over last year for the period from January through August. Kozak said the theft of auto parts, including catalytic converters is up by 163 percent, and auto thefts are up by 89 percent. Kozak called the increases in crime "the worst I have ever seen in my 35 years of policing.'' He went on to say "And why is this happening? Because criminals know they can't get arrested."
But Hollingshead told us those numbers are likely to be misleading. ''The high numbers were probably due to the change in the way the agencies report the crime data which was switched over in January.''