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Casper Police

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

Casper City Council on Tuesday evening approved spending up to $63,550 for an outside company to conduct a review of operations and culture within the Casper Police Department.

All council members at the meeting except Mayor Kenyne Humphrey voted in favor of the review, which Interim City Manager Liz Becher said would be completed by Council’s work session on Sept. 26. Humphrey did not explain during the meeting why she voted against the review.

Former City Manager V.H. McDonald proposed the review last month before announcing his retirement. In its proposal to the city, the Center for Public Safety Management said it would use data to determine officers’ workload, examine the department’s structure and culture, compare the department’s operations to industry standards and make recommendations.

Since then, a survey of police department employees revealed a morale crisis within the department, city council members called for an investigation into department leadership, McDonald retired, a city council member resigned and two-thirds of all officers voted that they had no confidence in Police Chief Jim Wetzel’s leadership.

Vice Mayor Ray Pacheco and council members Jesse Morgan, Bob Hopkins and Amanda Huckabay spoke in support of approving the review. Many said that the company was well-regarded and that an outside perspective would be helpful.

“I think we need that right now,” Pacheco said.

Huckabay said the council owed it to police officers and the community to search for the truth through an independent process.

“I feel it is our responsibility to clean up this mess that has come to light,” she said. “It is not admirable of us to bring in a new city manager into a mess we created and expect them to clean it up. I think that’s our responsibility.”

Councilman Chris Walsh requested to postpone the vote to discuss the review more thoroughly, but a majority of council rejected the motion.

McDonald originally presented the council with a cost estimate of $53,000, but Becher said Tuesday that the total cost, including travel and other expenses, could be up to $65,550. The company would contract with council and not with city management or the police department.

Follow crime and courts reporter Elise Schmelzer on Twitter @eliseschmelzer

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