Explosive Email From Casper City Council Member Blasts City, Police Leadership
An email released Wednesday night to select members of Casper's news media raises serious questions about a recent survey of the Casper Police Department, as well as how the results of that survey have been handled by Mayor Kenyne Humphrey, Chief of Police Jim Wetzel and City Manager V.H. McDonald.
In an email to Casper City Council, Ward II Councilman Shawn Johnson contradicts statements made by Wetzel during a press briefing earlier Wednesday.
The survey conducted by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 6, in which sworn officers and employees of the police department castigate Wetzel's leadership, was brought to light by Humphrey at last Tuesday's council meeting. Later that night, Wetzel told K2 Radio that he didn't know about the survey until a few minutes before the meeting began.
Johnson, in his email, refutes that claim.
"There was a K2 article that came out today where the chief denied receiving a report and denied that the FOP tried to contact him. I was advised by the FOP that they attempted to contact him several times and he refused to talk to them," Johnson writes. "Then they proceeded to tell me that the report that was to be given to the chief is STILL on the city manager's desk and that the chief was texted about coming to pick it up and he never did."
According to Johnson, the FOP first approached Humphrey with the survey results. They reportedly asked to see all of council, but Johnson says that request was denied, and he was told Humphrey would pass the survey along.
Johnson says FOP members asked Humphrey to not release the survey to the media. The survey, of course, was released before last Tuesday's council meeting -- before, Johnson says, council members even had a chance to review it.
"They asked the mayor to please NOT release the report to the media until all of council was able to look it over and discuss i[t], well as we all know the report was released to the media without council approval," Johnson says.
Johnson also places blame with City Manager V.H. McDonald, who announced last week his retirement effective June 1.
"The city manager's office has absolutely failed us, failed the city and failed the employees," Johnson writes.
Here's the full email released Wednesday evening from City Councilman Shawn Johnson:
Members of council,
I am writing this email because I have some concerns that I wanted to express as soon as possible so we can address them as soon as possible.
There have been unilateral decisions made, very important decisions without conferring with or even advising council. The first one that comes to mind was the report by the FOP. I have been approached by members of the FOP about this issue specifically. They approached the mayor with the report and they specifically asked to see all of council, they were told no and that the mayor would disseminate the info. Then they asked the mayor to please NOT release the report to the media until all of council was able to look it over and discuss is, well as we all know the report was released to the media without council approval. They also specifically asked that the chief of police get a copy, one was given to the mayor who then gave it to the city manager to give to the chief. There was a K2 article that came out today where the chief denied receiving a report and denied that the FOP tried to contact him. I was advised by the FOP that they attempted to contact him several times and he refused to talk to them. Then they proceeded to tell me that the report that was to be given to the chief is STILL on the city manager's desk and that the chief was texted about coming to pick it up and he never did. The other problem was some council members were told about the report while others weren't told until they showed up, some received a copy sooner than others, and then we were told BEFORE we could even read the thing that it has already been released to the media!
The next issue was the issue of the city manager resignation. This happened at the leadership lunch meeting, I had to find out through Facebook! There was a press release sent out at 5:00pm, no attempt made to contact members of council by council leadership. Then a couple of council members (I'm not sure who) decided to appoint Liz Becher as interim city manager without going to council first. The city manager is the preview of the ENTIRE council, not one or two.
The next issue is the controversy surrounding the police department. Now I'll tread lightly here as I don't want to be held liable in a lawsuit. THAT SENTENCE ANGERS ME! We had a very big issue within the police department for over a year now and NOTHING was being done about it, NOTHING! In a city manager form of government, we are supposed to rely on the city manager to take care of issues like this and if he doesn't take care of them to our satisfaction, we have the option of firing him. What if the city manager and his upper level staff not only not do anything about the problem but even conceal it? As a council, WE are ultimately responsible for what happens in this city, when issues like this happen, who does the public look to?.....THEY LOOK TO US! I cannot imagine that it's not ok for council to comment on a situation such as a city department crumbling from within! I cannot sit idly by when a city department is absolutely falling apart and I have employees and constituents begging me for help. I do agree we need to be professional but it doesn't mean we need to be blind, bound and gagged.
The city manager's office has absolutely failed us, failed the city and failed the employees. I'm sure we will discuss this further in our executive session on Monday but the other concerns I have should be made public record which is why I chose to write this email and will probably be making a verbal statement at Tuesday's meeting.
I was hoping to get this out at a work session but we had strategic planning and no opportunity was afforded so this is my heads up before Tuesday's regular meeting.
Casper City Councilman Ward II