Casper Police

Casper Police Department patrol vehicles sit in a city lot Thursday on West A Street in downtown Casper. A department strategic plan include significant changes including a new station.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Casper police officials envision a number of changes for the department in the next five years including possibly building a new headquarters and buying body cameras, according to a draft of the department’s strategic plan released last week.

The plan outlines a number of expected changes in the department, detailing both broad policy changes and specific purchases. The proposal — the first of its kind for the department — focuses on six areas: staffing and training, infrastructure, technology, enforcement practices, internal organization and partnerships with community groups and other law enforcement agencies.

The department also identified a number of its challenges in the plan, including difficulty recruiting and retaining officers, increased violence against officers across the country, more encounters with people in a mental health crisis and decreased state and city funding.

Police Chief Jim Wetzel said department leadership began working on the plan in the fall. The plan outlined will guide the department in the coming years and will serve as a foundation when he approaches city government for funding in the future, he said. The plan is still a draft, however, and the results of an external review of the department as well as public input will be considered before finalizing the document.

“We need to look holistically at the needs and requirements of the department,” he said in an April 26 interview.

The release of the strategic plan comes at a time of turmoil at the police department. In the past month, two-thirds of officers in the department said they had no confidence in Wetzel’s leadership and Casper City Council members have called for investigations into allegations against the chief. However, the chief said Tuesday that he had no plans to resign and was waiting for the results of the outside audit of the department, expected in September.

He previously described the divide within the department as a “clash of cultures” and said the strategic plan was a good example of the direction he wanted the department to take.

The vision of the department, as outlined in the document, is to be a “professional police organization of irrefutable noble character, respected and trusted by the entirety of the community and its citizens to guard their freedoms, safety, and security.”

“This describes to me the culture we need to have here at the Casper Police Department,” Wetzel said.

This story has been condensed. Find the original story in the Casper Star-Tribune or on trib.com.

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