Casper Police

Casper Police Department patrol vehicles sit in a city lot in April on West A Street in downtown Casper.  

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Outside analysts will visit Casper on Wednesday, soliciting public feedback on the Casper Police Department.

The “community focus session” will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at City Hall as part of an ongoing review of the police department initiated by the City Council this spring.

The contractor handling the review, the Center for Public Safety Management, has just completed the first phase of the review, which consisted of data analysis focusing on officers’ workload, deployment and response times, according to the city. The next step of the review process will consist of citizen input and a site visit by CPSM analysts.

During the visit to Casper, which is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, the independent team will interview police department staff and review department facilities.

The proposal filed by the company included a plan that would determine officers’ workload, review the department’s structure and culture, compare the department to industry benchmarks and make recommendations.

The city manager’s office has received a draft of the first phase of the review. Liz Becher, community development planning director, said the draft indicated misuse of the 911 call center. The call center has been flooded with non-emergency calls, she said, including calls for city facility hours of operations and to report emergencies the city had already responded to. She said she expected the review to recommend a non-emergency helpline to handle those calls.

The final report is expected to be delivered to the city manager’s office in October, Becher said.

The review was initially proposed by former City Manager V.H. McDonald in March and approved by City Council in April. In the five weeks between the project’s proposal and approval, a survey of police department employees revealed a morale crisis within the department, City Council members called for investigation into department leadership, McDonald retired, a council member resigned and two-thirds of all officers voted that they had no confidence in Police Chief Jim Wetzel.

Wetzel was dismissed and replaced by Interim Chief Steve Schulz in May.

Former Gillette City Administrator Carter Napier took the city manager job in June. Days after taking the job, Napier said he hoped to hire a new police chief by the end of the year.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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