Jul 20, 2017 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterThe longtime RPD officer replaces Mike Broadhead, who resigned in April.
Eric Murphy, who has been serving as the interim chief of the Riverton Police Department since April 1, has been selected for the job on a permanent basis.
Former chief Mike Broadhead resigned earlier this year to take a job with the Statesboro Police Department in Georgia. The city of Riverton conducted interviews with multiple candidates and selected Murphy for the interim post.
In a news release Wednesday afternoon, interim city administrator Courtney V. Bohlender said she was pleased to announce Murphy's official appointment, which begins effect Thursday.
"(We) are confident chief Murphy will effectively lead the Riverton Police Department," the press release stated. "He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position, and we look forward to working with him."
Murphy said he was "completely honored" to have been chosen for the position and expressed appreciation for being given the opportunity to fill the full-time role.
"I love this community," he said. "I've raised my children here; my wife is from here."
Murphy also expressed his admiration for the RPD officers and their ability to interact professionally and compassionately with Riverton residents. He's familiar with the officers' families, he added, and enjoys seeing them visit the police department.
"That's huge for me," Murphy said. "I want to provide a good, positive, quality work environment for them."
Murphy will oversee seven sergeants, 28 sworn officers and 15 civilian police.
Former patrol division captain Todd Byerly is now the only captain in the department, while officer Wes Romero has been promoted to lieutenant.
Romero recently joined the RPD and was previously a sergeant with the Lander Police Department.
Riverton Mayor Lars Baker had said earlier in the year that the city would wait until a permanent city administrator was hired before going forward with the hiring process for the police chief. On Thursday, however, he said, "I changed my mind."
"We thought we would have a city administrator in a couple of months," he explained. "Now it's been four."
Former city administrator Steven Weaver announced his resignation in January. He left the city March 1, and Bohlender stepped in on an interim basis soon afterward.
Baker added that it would be best for a new city administrator to have a "functional, capable leadership team" already in place.
"His first job shouldn't be to try to fill positions," Baker said. "His first job should be to see how the city works."
The emphasis will now be on creating a "very workable leadership team" for the city, he said; then, after six months to a year on the job, maybe the city administrator could start to "make adjustments."
Baker said Murphy is a team player for the city and a great leader for the police department.
"He simply demonstrated his ability over the last four months to bring people together," Baker said. "He has really excelled."
The news release included highlights of Murphy's career, noting that he started with the RPD in 2003 as a patrol officer.
For the past 19 years, Murphy has been a patrol officer, school resource officer, field training officer, detective, detective sergeant and captain.
He was promoted to the rank of RPD captain in 2009.
Murphy completed a 10-week course in leadership management through the FBI National Academy and implemented the local Shop with a Cop program. He said he plans to continue to revise outdated city ordinances, and he plans to change and improve some internal functions of the department including giving sergeants more authority and control over their squads, for example.
"The more you can empower your employees, the better supervisors they will be, and then they'll be ready to move up when it's time," he said.
Overall, Murphy said he has seen a positive change in the workplace since he took over. He plans to encourage a less stressful environment in the department using his own personality traits.
"I am a very passionate, caring person," he said. "I want guys to come to work and love their job."
He hopes officer fulfillment will translate to positive community engagement in the field, he added.
The search for the city administrator has proved to be a challenge for the mayor and city council, Baker said. Just this month, he said, the council was prepared to invite a potential candidate for a visit to Riverton, but at the last minute, the individual retracted his interest in order to pursue another career opportunity.
The city may have to raise the position's salary in order to attract more candidates, Baker said.
"That gets you an entirely different group of candidates," he said. "It's a real challenge, but we'll make it work until we find the right guy. ... We have to find the right person who will like Riverton."
Baker said the city will go back to the list of candidates that already has been compiled during the search.
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