(KUTV) -- Riverton City Council has made the decision to begin forming the Riverton Police Department Wednesday.
In a press release sent Wednesday, Riverton City Council has made the decision in their Oct. 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 Unified Police Department on July 19.
Riverton city leaders have been negiotiating with UPD to resolve concerns about financial management and governance of the organization. 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 Riverton 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.”
Riverton hopes to have a police chief by Jan. 1, 2019. The chief will then guide the formation of the police department, providing recommendations to Riverton City Council on staffing levels. The city's financial analysis states that Riverton could have up to 38 officers and five civilian employees without paying more than the current pay for UPD enforcement services has for its 28 to 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.”
Riverton anticipates other officer and civilian hires will take place between January and June 2019 following the hiring of the police chief, ensuring the department is fully staffed to takeover operations from UPD by 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 cost in setting up a department will be "very reasonable" compared to what it would be starting from scratch, stated the press release, since Riverton already owns the UPD precinct building next to city hall and is entitled to share existing assets and fund balance at UPD that have been invested by Riverton taxpayers since the organization was formed.