New recruitment strategy doubled RPD application pool last year, chief says; six going through background checks now

    (Riverton, WY) – Seventy people have applied for jobs at the Riverton Police Department over the past year – about twice as many as normal, RPD chief Eric Hurtado reported this week.

    He attributed the increase to a recent change in the RPD’s hiring practices, which previously focused more on local recruitment.

    That strategy generated an average of about 32 applicants a year over the past three years, Hurtado told the Riverton City Council during a meeting this week – not enough to “keep up” with demand.


    So last year, the RPD changed its hiring strategy and started looking for recruits from other states, resulting in an increase in applications, Hurtado said.

    “As of today, we’ve almost doubled – we’re at 70 applications that have come in to try to fill our positions,” he told the council.

    Not all of those 70 applicants will be qualified for the job, however.

    “It’s hard profession to get into,” Hurtado explained, outlining some of the steps involved in the hiring process, including written tests, oral interviews, background checks, psychological exams, physical fitness assessments, and more.

    The rigorous selection process ensures the RPD hires “high-quality officers,” Hurtado said.


    “We want to make sure that when we bring our officers on board that we’re getting the best that we can,” he said. “We’re not going to sell ourselves short with that. So we’re going to keep going with a high-quality officer that we deserve here as a community.”

    Of the 70 people who applied for jobs at the RPD last year, Hurtado said only 21 “showed up for the testing,” and out of those 21, six applicants are now going through background checks for police officer positions.

    The RPD also extended a job offer to an applicant for the new community service officer program this week, Hurtado said, and he recently conducted several interviews with people who are interested in the RPD’s other CSO position and a dispatcher position.


    But there is still a “national shortage” of police officers, Hurtado said, with “not enough viable applicants … trying to get into these fields – because it’s very challenging.”

    To help curb the impacts of the officer shortage, Hurtado said the RPD is working with other law enforcement agencies in Fremont County to expand the scope of the recently created DUI Task Force, using the same cooperative approach to provide “extra coverage” during “peak times” for criminal activity.

    “Task force teams … are a force multiplier, they’re used efficiently, and they help reduce crime,” Hurtado said. “Starting this week, you’ll start seeing the Sheriff’s office and Shoshoni Police Department officers helping us.”


    The DUI Task Force was in Riverton last weekend, he noted, including seven officers from Lander, Shoshoni, and the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office who helped the RPD make 134 traffic stops and 14 arrests and issue 33 citations.

    Alcohol-related calls to the RPD were down last year, Hurtado said, falling from 766 in 2021 to 556 in 2022 and 450 in 2023, and “I like to think (that is) because we are trying to get a high-visibility presence.”

    “Maybe people aren’t acting up as much as they used to,” he said.

    There was an increase in shoplifting in 2023 compared to previous years, Hurtado said, but he hopes the city’s new loitering ordinance will give local officers “more ammunition” to stop those kinds of crimes “before they occur.”

    The RPD’s overall call volume rose in 2023, too, but Hurtado pointed out that the total (9,700) was still lower than it was in 2019, when local officers responded to 10,600 calls for service.

    He guessed that calls might have gone up last year because “the community is more involved” and the RPD is “more responsive.”

    If that’s the case, Hurtado said “next year you’ll see more calls” as well – not necessarily because there is more crime, but because more people are “reporting what they see as far as suspicious activity.”

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


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