The new chief of the Casper Police Department took the oath of office on Monday, ending a time of what the city manager referred to as one to two years of turmoil.

"The City of Casper and its Police Department are outstanding," Chief Keith McPheeters said at his swearing-in ceremony in the lobby of the Casper City Hall on Monday morning.

"We're doing a lot of good things in the community," McPheeters said to the crowd of law enforcement officers, city staff and council members.

"I am especially grateful for the community support," he said. "Everyone that I have spoken to has been very supportive of the Police Department and all of the good projects they are doing."

Casper benefits from a low crime rate, McPheeters said. "That low crime rate is a direct reflection of the professionalism of these men and women standing in the room today and the good work they are doing to keep Casper a safe community; some place that we're proud to call our home."

Before McPheeters' remarks, City Manager Carter Napier administered the oath of office.

Napier announced McPheeters' appointment Dec. 1. McPheeters, a 25-year veteran of the Farmington, N.M., police department, was chosen over four other finalists, including Interim Casper Police Chief Steve Schulz.

McPheeters replaced former Chief Jim Wetzel, who was fired May 4 after months of controversy about his leadership style that damaged department morale.

In his opening remarks, Napier alluded to but never mentioned by Wetzel's tenure by name, especially as he addressed the law enforcement officers at the ceremony.

"I certainly want to issue my heartfelt gratitude to the members of the department," he said. "You all have been through more than you should have over the last year to two years or whatever, and I recognize that it hasn't been an easy journey."

Napier also complimented the command staff and Schulz's leadership, and the community's partnership with the department.

Wetzel's tenure was controversial, and rumblings came to a head in early April with the release of a department survey conducted by the Fraternal Order of Police.

The survey revealed low morale among sworn officers, a large number of whom said they wanted to quit. Wetzel's leadership was roundly criticized by many respondents.

On April 17, the vast majority of sworn officers cast a vote of "no confidence" in Wetzel, demanding a change in leadership.

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