EXCLUSIVE: Fraternal Order of Police Pursue ‘Change of Leadership’ in Casper Police Department
An overwhelming number of sworn officers within the Casper Police Department have declared their lack of confidence in Chief of Police Jim Wetzel as part of a push by the Fraternal Order of Police for a change of leadership in the department.
At recent meetings, members of FOP Lodge No. 6 voted unanimously for a motion directing the Lodge to pursue a change of leadership. As part of that effort, the Lodge conducted a no confidence vote on Wetzel.
Of 73 voting members -- which represent 78 percent of the department -- 60 said they have no confidence in Wetzel. Three said they were confident in Wetzel's leadership, while 10 abstained from the vote.
It is only the second time in the FOP's 34-year history that a vote of No Confidence has been cast by an FOP Lodge in Wyoming.
The details, reflecting what the FOP previously termed a "crisis of leadership" within the department, are contained in a letter from the FOP to Wetzel, obtained Monday by K2 Radio.
"This action is the culmination of numerous prior attempts to resolve differences between officers and staff of the Casper Police Department and Chief Wetzel, Human Resources, and the City Manager's Office," the letter reads.
"Issues and concerns pertaining to the department have been refuted, disregarded, and ignored. Some of the more substantial concerns of the officers that have failed to be addressed or recognized include:
- Chief Wetzel's Hiring Practices
- Deviation from established policies and practices in which employees are hired despite failing pre-employment polygraphs.
- Hiring employees prior to backgrounds being completed as required by established practice.
- Creating a command level position that circumvents Civil Service Rules and Regulations and subsequently hiring an outside candidate with no law enforcement experience for this position. This position has direct oversight and supervision of sworn officers and intimate involvement with law enforcement and department operations. This had had a direct impact on officers' morale as it pertains to professional development and opportunities to career advancement and promotion.
- Chief Wetzel's Ethical Leadership and Practices
- Knowingly directing subordinates to submit erroneous grant reimbursements with the intention of masking ineligible expenses.
- Misled and misrepresented, to the media and the public, the receipt of the FOP survey contrary to information provided by Acting City Manager Liz Becher.
- A clothing/uniform allowance for officers was presented to the Casper City Council and approved. However, officers are only allowed to access and utilize less than half of that allowance.
- These acts jeopardize the integrity of not only Chief Wetzel but also the entire Casper Police Department in the eyes of the public.
- Chief Wetzel's Failure to Establish Direction and Vision of Department
- The department model that he has attempted to establish over the past three years is a militaristic occupational force instead of a community partnership that addresses the specific needs of the City of Casper.
- The framework of the department has become heavily weighted with clumsy bureaucracy which prohibits smooth and effective operations of the department.
- Training for officers lacks a clear direction and is linear. The current training model does not allow for new opportunities. Further, the resources allocated to training have been diminished by 35%.
- Departmental resources and staff are not aligned with community needs and priorities. A specific example includes the fact that an officer has been sent to a year-long training on intelligence gathering at a time when the department is critically understaffed in both patrol and investigations."
The vote was conducted from Thursday through Saturday, with each eligible FOP member contacted individually and advised they would be presented with the ability to vote or abstain from voting, according to the letter.
"Each member was afforded the opportunity to cast an anonymous ballot which presented a choice between two distinct options:
- A. I am a member of FOP Lodge #6 and an officer with the Casper Police Department. I AM SATISFIED with the direction of the department and leadership given by Chief Wetzel.
- B. I am a member of FOP Lodge #6 and an officer with the Casper Police Department. I HAVE LOST CONFIDENCE in Chief Wetzel's ability to lead the department and distrust his administrative practices.
According to the FOP letter, the Casper Police Department is currently comprised of 94 sworn officers, with an authorized strength of 99 sworn officers.
Lodge membership is optional and each new officer seeking to become a member must apply before being considered. the Lodge currently has 78 members.
The Lodge allowed only members who were active CPD officers to vote. Five Lodge members are either retired or no longer with the department, but remain in good standing with the Lodge. That left 73 eligible members to vote.
"This raw data is being provided to illustrate the magnitude of dissatisfaction and lack of confidence by officers of the Casper Police Department towards leadership at the Casper Police Department, specifically Chief Wetzel," the letter reads.
"On a best case scenario, 60 out of 94 officers have no confidence in Chief Wetzel, which reflects 64% of the department," the letter continues. "In a worst case scenario, 60 out of 63 officers have no confidence in Chief Wetzel which reflects 95% of the department."