Local business owners seek additional support for Riverton police; mayor says ‘we’re trying to do what we can’

    The Riverton City Council heard public comment from a dozen community members Tuesday who expressed concern, impatience and frustration about a visible increase in crime and substance abuse in town.

    “I feel like our community health is in jeopardy,” local realtor Natasha Hatfield Peck said, pointing to city ordinances barring vandalism, littering, public indecency, theft, loitering, trespassing, public intoxication and more, which she says are not being enforced due to staffing shortages at the Riverton Police Department.

    The RPD introduced a new officer during Tuesday’s meeting, and that “was really, really great,” Hatfield Peck said, commending the city for “being proactive” in addressing the staffing issue.


    “I think that we are moving in the right direction,” she said. “I understand you don’t get change overnight, (but) we are seeing pay raises; we are seeing more police officers coming in, so thank you. …

    “I urge you to find ways, and continue to find ways, as it seems like you are acting on, to retain amazing police officers.”

    Other local business owners who spoke Tuesday said the city hasn’t done enough to adequately compensate its police officers, however.

    “I’m very angry, and I’m disappointed,” Angel Arnold said. “I don’t know if you realize what a joke the pay scale is that you released, but it is. … It’s a joke. And it’s sick that you all think that it’s OK.”


    Jim Cassidy called the officer pay raise “a pittance,” especially when compared to the wages offered in Lander, where crime rates are lower.

    “Something has got to change,” he said. “We have to do better, or we’re not going to have a police force.”

    The new pay scale “doesn’t solve any problems,” Brett Johnson agreed – instead, “it just shows these (officers) what you think they’re worth.”


    “Your inaction (is) unacceptable,” Johnson told the council. “These honorable men and women need your attention. … Without them, our city is in peril.”

    Crime is more prevalent in Riverton now “than I have ever seen,” Johnson said, describing unhoused or intoxicated people “blatantly walking these city streets, defecating on our sidewalks, consuming alcohol out in public (and) breaking several laws.”

    “When did this become acceptable?” he asked. “Why isn’t anything being done? …


    “Blame needs to be squarely placed upon all of your shoulders. The police department personnel are at such low numbers (that) they cannot respond.”

    Karen Johnson, a local business owner and community organizer with the Step Up Riverton group, asked several questions about police equipment and training, enforcement efforts, and fundraising opportunities before criticizing the city for its “lack of communication (and) transparency” regarding the staffing issues at the RPD.

    She also called the raises the city is implementing for local officers “laughable.”

    “They got peanuts thrown at them,” she said, estimating that the raises only increased wages for patrol officers by 2 to 4 percent. “I’m saddened, I’m angry, and I’m disappointed that your actions show how little you care.”

    Later, city administrator Kyle Butterfield offered more details about the raises being implemented at the RPD, which he said will result in:
    -5 percent – or $2,350 – average annual increases in pay for level-one patrol officers
    -6 percent – or $2,800 – average annual increases in pay for dispatchers
    -7 percent – or $4,000 – average annual increases in pay for detectives
    -7 percent – or $4,600 – average annual increases in pay for sergeants
    -8 percent – or $3,950 – average annual increases in pay for level-two patrol officers
    -11 percent – or $5,800 – average annual increases in pay for level-three patrol officers

    Patrol officers were also offered a $7,000 retention bonus that will go out this week, Butterfield said.

    Plus, Mayor Tim Hancock added, all city staff received a 5 percent pay raise and a 2.5 percent “step increase” earlier this year, resulting in a combined 12.5 percent raise for level-one patrol officers, a 14.5 percent raise for detectives and sergeants, a 15.5 percent raise for level-two patrol officers, and an 18.5 percent increase for level-three patrol officers.

    “Anybody that sits there and says with a straight face that we’re not doing what we can for our officers, you’re either not looking at the numbers, or you’re trying to create misinformation,” Hancock said. “We are putting our money where our mouth is.”

    The RPD has also modified its officer recruitment strategy online, he noted, and the adjustment has resulted in 16 new job applications in the past week, six of which have already been “filtered through to the city’s internal hiring system.”

    “We have three patrol candidates that are going to be testing tomorrow with the department,” Hancock said. “So, we are getting more interest, and we’re trying to do what we can to recruit officers here.”

    For more information call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.


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