The Casper Police Department provides good quality law enforcement and is recovering from the turmoil earlier this year that caused a loss of confidence and led to low morale, according to a long-awaited independent report released Friday.

But the city needs to name a new chief soon, fill vacancies in the command staff and the dispatch center, realign some of the organization, and seriously consider remaking or getting a different facility, according to the executive summary of the 155-page report from the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM).

The Casper City Council hired the CPSM for $60,000 in March to conduct an independent review of the police department, shortly before the firing of former Chief Jim Wetzel in May.

The CPSM reviewed the department’s work load and staffing; community demographics; crime levels; the organizational structure; and its efficiency. In August, CPSM consultants held a community forum for residents to offer their observations and suggestions.

The CPSM noted these problems among others that need fixing:

  • The dispatch center has only one supervisor for a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation -- meaning no supervisor is on duty three-fourths of the time.
  • There is no direct, full-time supervision of the department's records division.
  • The office of professional standards should combine internal affairs, training, and employment services.
  • The facility at the Hall of Justice, 201 N. David St., is inadequate. The building was not designed to be a police facility. Its floor plan cannot meet the needs of staff and logistics, which results in cramped conditions.

The CPSM also made a substantial list of recommendations, according to the executive summary.

They won’t be easy and fast, and in many cases won’t be cheap, CPSM observed. “Should the City of Casper and the Casper Police Department choose to implement any or all recommendations, it must be recognized that this process will not take just weeks or even months to complete, but perhaps years.”

These are among the 75 recommendations:

  • Personnel vacancies should be filled as soon as possible to provide additional patrol resources.
  • The department and the Natrona County Circuit Court should evaluate scheduling for efficiency while maintaining the due process rights of the accused.
  • Develop a relationship with the Wyoming State Crime Lab about evidence collection.
  • The city and the department should consider expanding the community service officers program.
  • Maintain statistics on gang activity.
  • Upgrade the audio and video systems in the unit’s interview rooms to ensure a high-quality product for court purposes.
  • Finish an audit of the caseloads of detectives.
  • Strengthen relationships with service providers such as hospitals and community-based advocates.
  • Provide training to patrol officers to ensure a thorough understanding of the value and capabilities of the Victim Services Unit.
  • Restructure the management and supervision of the Public Services Communications Center.
  • Develop a recruitment team of officers who can champion the advantages and benefits of the department and Rocky Mountain Region.
  • Make a concerted recruitment effort to attract minorities and females to the department.
  • Address retention of employees.
  • Upgrade property and evidence software to improve tracking.
  • Take affirmative steps to dispose of unnecessary property and evidence, assign staff to do it, and inventory the remaining materials.
  • Ensure annual audits are conducted of the property and evidence section.
  • Add security features to the property and evidence facilities.
  • Address the many physical plant issues that are having a negative impact on workload, safety, and efficiency of staff.
  • The ability to file a complaint against employees should be made available on the department’s website and in the lobby, and offer the complaint form in Spanish.
  • Reduce the number of use-of-force incidents that require counseling of an officer from five incidents to three.

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