In an emergency meeting on July 19, the Riverton City Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring the city’s intent to leave the Unified Police Department (UPD) at the end of 12 months; though the council did so with the understanding that the decision may change if substantial differences between UPD and the city can be resolved.
The urgency and reasoning behind declaring this intent came on July 18, the day before a UPD Board of Directors meeting, when city officials finally received information about specific details of an agenda item that would make changes to an agreement between UPD and its member communities. The proposed changes, which mostly concern the assets and resources the city has invested in UPD over the years, have the potential to impact Riverton taxpayers in a negative financial way.
“It made me really nervous to know that the UPD Board would be considering such substantial changes to our agreement during a time when we are actively trying to resolve some very important concerns,” said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. “Our major concerns are about transparency, governance, and in ensuring our residents are getting what they pay for. We must be able to work out these concerns if we stay with UPD. I truly don’t believe we would have been able to do that if we didn’t signal our intent to leave before the Board adopted changes to the agreement, boxing us in to a potentially bad deal for our taxpayers.”
Given the city’s notice, the UPD Board ultimately tabled the proposed changes to the agreement. City officials intend to work with UPD in the months ahead to see if there may be a path to an agreement to stay.
“Let me be clear, we have the upmost confidence in and respect for the UPD officers who serve our city so well,” said Mayor Staggs. “Our concerns do not lie with service received from local officers but with the administrative and governance levels of UPD.”
City officials realize that much public discourse and education is needed. Those opportunities will be provided in the weeks ahead to ensure that Riverton residents can become educated, ask questions, and express their thoughts to elected officials.