Following more than three months of debate and negotiations, the Riverton City Council made the decision in their October 23 meeting to begin the process of forming the Riverton Police Department. The council originally submitted notice of the city’s intent to withdraw from the Unified Police Department (UPD) on July 19. Since that time, city leaders have been negotiating with UPD to resolve concerns about financial management and governance of the organization. Ultimately, most of the concerns weren’t addressed to the satisfaction of a majority of Riverton’s council members.
“We are excited to begin the process of forming the Riverton Police Department,” said Mayor Trent Staggs. “The first step for us will be to hire a chief of police that can guide us as we begin the formation of the department. The city council has directed city staff to take steps to begin that search and hiring process.”
The city hopes to have a chief of police in place by January 1, 2019. The chief will then guide the formation of a new police department and will provide recommendations to the city council on staffing levels. According to the city’s financial analysis, the city could have up to 38 officers and five civilian employees without paying more than what is currently paid to UPD for law enforcement service for 28-30 officers in the city.
“The decision to form our own police department has been a difficult one for us,” said Councilman Sheldon Stewart. “Ultimately, the decision was made based on what direction could provide the best level of service in our city at the best cost. The move to create our own police department allows more Riverton taxpayer dollars to be invested in law enforcement service right here in our own community.”
It is anticipated that following the hiring of a chief of police, other officer and civilian hires will take place between January and June 2019 to ensure the department is fully staffed to take over operations from UPD at some point in July 2019.
“We appreciate the service of the UPD officers who have served our community so well for many years,” said Councilwoman Tawnee McCay. “We hope to see many of those who serve here currently, whether as officers or as crossing guards, apply for positions in the new Riverton Police Department when that time comes.”
The financial cost in setting up a department will be very reasonable compared to what it would be from starting from scratch, as the city already owns the UPD precinct building next to city hall and is entitled to the share of existing assets (e.g., cars, equipment) and fund balance at UPD that have been invested by Riverton taxpayers since the organization was formed.
Published October 24, 2018