The Cheyenne City Council on Monday approved a $56 million budget, moving $10,344 in the budget to the police department to continue its Operation Change program.

Police began the initiative in April of 2017 to address issues with transients downtown, and ended up issuing 208 citations and making 102 arrests that year.

"In 2018, we saw a similar number of contacts with folks, but you can see a huge decline in the enforcement part," Capt. Nathan Buseck told the council.  "So what we believe was occurring was because of the presence downtown."

Buseck says the department was fortunate enough to receive a couple of grants to pay officers to specifically work downtown, but there are limitations that don't allow them to use that type of money for the program any longer.

"We're trying to budget a little bit, a few thousand dollars just internally with our overtime, to try to keep this moving forward, but certainly it's not to the level of what those two grants were able to do for us the last few years," he said.

"The point of those grants is to get us started and then if we find that program to be worthwhile to continue that program," said Councilman Pete Laybourn, who pushed for the funding.

"This (Operation Change) really made a difference ... not just in dealing with people with problems, it made a difference in the atmosphere of the downtown area," added Laybourn.  "The most important work that we can conceive of downtown right now is this police patrol."

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