‘No Confidence’ Vote Held on Casper Police Chief
A number of Casper police officers have decided whether or not they support Chief of Police Jim Wetzel through a formal 'no confidence' vote conducted recently.
The vote has concluded, according to a source. A final tally and the number of participating officers were not immediately available.
The vote was conducted by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 6.
As the vote is not managed by any city or government agency, there is no mechanism in place requiring Casper City Council or other government officials to take action based solely on the result of the vote.
But in just a few hours, council will convene a special meeting and go into executive session to address personnel issues that have arisen from the last two weeks of turmoil within city government and the police department.
The special meeting, called by Mayor Kenyne Humphrey, was announced Friday in a press release.
During a council meeting nearly two weeks ago, Humphrey released the results of an FOP survey of officers and employees within the police department.
That survey found some 65 percent of the 84 officers and employees who responded to the survey were planning on leaving the department.
In anonymous responses, officers and employees explain their dismay with Wetzel's leadership, referring specifically to department policy and a "toxic, non-supportive working environment."
"I enjoy working in the Casper Police Department," one response reads. "I'm paid well, and have some great co-workers. But I work on a sinking ship helmed by a narcissist, and the rest are blind to their inabilities to keep it afloat. Hail the Emperor and his new clothes."
That respondent went on to say they are actively considering work in the private sector.
"Not currently applying but if [a] better opportunity presented itself I would be gone," they said. "There are agencies nearby with significantly better reputations and culture."
In responding to a question about how likely the officer or employee is to seek work outside the department, another person referenced a fatal shooting in which an "Operations Capt[a]in put several officers in danger."
"The current police department has been plagued with terrible leadership at the highest level. The chief has created an environment in which officers loath[e] having to come to work and fear any vocal displeasure from admin choices and directions will be met with sever[e] punishment," they wrote. "Anyone who looks will see there has been a huge turn around [sic] rate with senior employees leaving as a result of his poor leadership."
"Issues have been addressed to the City Manager and Human Resources but nothing has changed," the response reads.
The survey's cover letter references a "crisis of leadership" at the police department and says "morale at the Casper Police Department is at an historic low."
"Many employees have met with City of Casper Human Resources staff to voice concerns... no resolutions have been communicated by HR," the letter reads.
The letter also says command staff members met with Wetzel directly, but no suggested changes were made.
Then, in April 2016, CPD command staff "minus one," as the letter says, requested a meeting with McDonald to address continuing concerns with Wetzel which had been communicated, but not resolved. McDonald reportedly invited Wetzel to the meeting.
"Sadly, approximately one year after this meeting, there has been no communication, no follow-up, and most importantly, no resolution," the letter reads.
"It is imperative that you understand that numerous good employees have continued to leave the Casper Police Department. We encourage you to contact HR directly to get an exact number of those who have left since Chief Wetzel took office approximately 3 years ago," the letter continues.
"For approximately three years, employees of the Casper Police Department have suffered under a failed leadership. The FOP Lodge has maintained an honorable standard of discretion throughout the process described above," the letter says. "Please understand that the FOP Lodge is committed to its membership, and to ultimately seeking an improvement to a working atmosphere that has become unbearable."