Business and community watch efforts move forward with solutions “…one step at a time.”

    (Riverton, WY) Actions have been taken after the City of Riverton’s business and community meeting held at City Hall on June 27, with changes that have come in the form of signage on business establishments, more police presence on the streets, and plans for future community engagement meetings and events.

    The City of Riverton hosted a Business and Community Open House and a Q & A style meeting on June 27 with Mayor Tim Hancock, City Administrator Kyle Butterfield, and new RPD Chief Eric Hurtado fielding questions from those in attendance who voiced their concerns about the rise of crime, incidents, and infractions occurring in Riverton’s business corridors and the surrounding residences.

    Other speakers at the meeting were Karen Johnson, owner of Twice But Nice Thrift and #StepUpRiverton organizer, and Greg Tallabas, founder of Riverton Community Watch.


    #StepUpRiverton began as a group of concerned business owners who came together for the purpose of discussing and finding solutions to the issues and problems that Riverton businesses face on a daily basis. The first informal meeting was held on June 15 at the Fremont County Fairgrounds. Notes were taken and compiled before meeting with Mayor Hancock and Chief Hurtado, and from there, the June 27 meeting was scheduled and announced.

    “We’re going to do this in a positive manner,” Johnson said. “We have short-term goals; we have long-term goals…the mayor and the chief both took time out to meet with us personally; they got straight to work and were out on the streets the very next day. I probably received about a hundred messages from businesses just saying how nice it was to see them present. The community really appreciated that…even the kids at the skatepark were ecstatic to see them in the park. They felt safe.”

    Johnson also mentioned the types of signage now available to Riverton business owners. “We have signs made available that say there will be ‘no loitering, no trespassing, no alcohol, no drug use tolerated or you’re out the door, no exceptions,’” she said. “We’re looking for accountability. If we’ve done our part, we expect city officials to do their part. It’s what we’ve elected you for.”

    Karen Johnson, owner of Twice But Nice Thrift and #StepUpRiverton organizer. h/t Carol Harper

    “We want to work together with the city and the city officials. We’re willing to do whatever it takes, and if that means public meetings, if that means going statewide, if that means lobbying for better pay for our police officers…whatever it takes. This city needs to be staffed fully, and there are no exceptions to it. The lawlessness that is occurring in this city is not okay anymore, and it needs to be fixed. We want to partner up with you (RPD) and make sure it’s taken care of. How we do that is a work in progress. This [the problems] didn’t arise overnight; they’re not going to go away overnight. We’re asking that you all stay on board with us. Help out where you can.” – Karen Johnson


    One step at a time…

    Greg Tallabas, the founder of Riverton Community Watch, weighed in afterward about how the meeting went and gave his perspective on how the community is engaging. Tallabas paints over the graffiti around the city and attended both of the #StepUpRiverton meetings.

    “I think the tone of this meeting was much different than the first one,” Tallabas said. “I’ve been doing this for over a year, and I can tell that there are still some attitudes going on, but we just have to keep moving forward, one step at a time, and not lose momentum. You’ve got to put in the equity. I do have to say that the only City Council person that I saw at the meeting was Karla Borders. Where was the rest of the council?”


    Tallabas is in the process of planning an RCW Prayer in the Park event scheduled for Sunday, August 13 in Riverton City Park. He envisions and hopes that everyone in the community, local churches, ministries, and congregations “would all come together for some prayer and worship time in city park,” he said. “I just want us to do something positive that gets us all together, and something that is a positive action, not just a bunch of talking and complaining.”

    Greg Tallabas, Riverton Community Watch. h/t Carol Harper

    “We need to strengthen the community and communicate with each other, and when that starts happening, the results can be visible and quick. But it takes us to be willing to participate and visit with our neighbors…and when we do, it’s work for good. Just saying, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’…’Did you see that?’…’Did you get a license number?’…see something, say something. Until that action comes forth from all of us, it’s going to stay the same. I hope and encourage everyone to keep coming. It’s worth it. You’ll see me on the streets, passing out signs. Sometimes it’s a rude response, but it’s okay because we’ve all been through a lot and we’re jaded. It’s hard to get a soft heart over something that is so prevalent.” – Greg Tallabas

    Mayor Timothy Hancock. h/t Carol Harper

    Business owners’ rights


    Mayor Tim Hancock said that business and property owners “have a right to determine who is going to be on your property,” he said. “That’s important to remember…it’s an important part about what Wyoming statutes give you and what you have by virtue of just being a property owner.”

    The Mayor went on to say that business owners could help law enforcement by writing down and keeping track of those who they don’t want in their establishments. “If you have somebody in your business that is intoxicated or causing problems, and you don’t want them there, and the reason has nothing to do with being a protected class, which is race, religion, creed, gender (those things that we understand are protected by the constitution)…if there is someone you’ve asked not to be there and they’re coming back after being told not to be there…you have a right to ask our law enforcement to help you enforce that. There’s no reason why you can’t have a book or list that keeps track of those who are in your own store.”

    Community Service Officer (CSO) program

    Chief Eric Hurtado presented a Community Service Officers (CSO) program as a possible solution and showed three videos of three different communities that portrayed how the program works. CSOs would provide support and assistance to regular law enforcement officers in responding to and upholding civil law in non-lethal situations and scenarios.

    “A CSO program…might be a viable solution for us, especially with the staffing shortages we’re facing,” said Hurtado. “We have people in the community that are interested in establishing a neighborhood watch program, a business watch program, and it’s all to better our businesses and our community,” Hurtado said. “I encourage you to listen to them and ask questions. Let this be our first step to get this to what we all want this to be, and that is a place to enjoy living, we feel safe going down the street, we feel safe going to the store, even if it’s dark…if our kids are at a function, we know that they’re safe. Let’s not be that community where we have to have the kids in at dark and we’re worried about them. Let’s change it..and it starts with this room full of people…all of you here tonight demonstrate that.”

    “Let’s care for each other.”

    Hurtado said that one of the things City staff had asked him during the selection process as the new police chief was what his plan was for the first 90 days, to which his reply was “to listen, to watch and observe…”

    “…because yes, I have 35 years in law enforcement, but I don’t know what’s normal here,” he continued. “You all know what’s normal and what’s not. If the neighbor’s garage door is open and it’s usually closed, let somebody know, because maybe something’s wrong. It may not be criminal, but maybe someone is hurt inside. Let’s look after each other, let’s care for each other, let’s make sure we get where we want to be.”

    Hurtado said that the way he believed law enforcement should be was to serve the community. “We live in your community,” he said. “We shop in our community…our kids go to school in our community…so we’re going to make sure our community is safe. We’re going to do everything possible to make sure that you can shop safely, your kids can go to school safely, and everyone can enjoy themselves.”

    A National Night Out planning meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 10 at 5:30 p.m. at Riverton City Hall. The public is welcome to attend and help with planning the event.

    City Administrator Kyle Butterfield. h/t Carol Harper

    “Come talk to us…”

    “I hope we have multiple occasions to gather like this so that we can interact. The way that we build a strong community is through communication and by knowing who each other is…some of you I know; some of you I don’t. I do enjoy working for the City of Riverton. Please, if you ever have questions, come talk to us. I think the best source of information is when you come to the city and you engage with city staff. Facebook and social media have a strong purpose, but if there are things that we can do to help you…I’m going to tell you, we’re not looking through every social media thread to find it. We’re too busy; we’re trying to do good things. So come talk to us, give us a call, come visit us in person. Hopefully, again, this is a great opportunity to engage.” – Kyle Butterfield, Riverton City Administrator.

    Visit the City of Riverton website for information and how to contact your city officials, or call the City at 307-856-2227 or e-mail [email protected].

    Visit the Riverton Community Watch website at


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