Riverton Police Chief Eric Murphy said Thursday night at an organizational meeting for the neighborhood watch program that most shooters in the city are people who know each other and have family problems. He said there have been eight such shootings in the past three months. As such, Murphy said “there is no general threat to the community as a whole.”
He said the last six months have been difficult for his officers because the stolen cars are getting out of hand, he said. He said over the past several months, RPD has received an average of about three stolen vehicle reports a night. And he said: “We know who is doing these crimes, it’s mostly 12 to 13-year-old girls who are mostly involved and we know where they’re going and we’ve managed to get most of the vehicles, some of them have been damaged by joy.” rides.” He said most car break-ins and thefts happen between midnight and 6 a.m. “They’re kicking our asses.”
Murphy said in the 22 years he has been with the RPD, he hasn’t had a single incident of someone plugging a car to steal it. “People are leaving keys in their vehicles, not locking their doors and leaving valuables and firearms in plain sight in the vehicle. These are crimes of opportunity,” he said. “Take your keys, lock your vehicles. It’s so simple. if you see anything suspicious, call. We always have time,” he said, “we’ll call you. You never feel like you can’t make a call. You should feel safe at home and your vehicle will be there in the morning.”
Mayor Richard Gard gave the same advice. Of the dozen or so townspeople who showed up for the meeting, most came from the neighborhood surrounding the latest shooting: the area east of and between the Loaf ‘N Jug and the Roomers Motel on both sides of Jackson Street. Others were there from Broadway, Adams and North 6th East.
One Jackson resident, Jack Couples, told the group he put up three cameras and said the parking lot north of Roomers installed motion lights on the fence, which he said helped a lot.
Event organizer Greg Talabas said his goal of the program is to be there for your neighbors and they will be there for you. “We want our neighbors to know each other and report anything suspicious.”
Former Riverton City Councilwoman Mary Ellen Christensen said she was concerned that police would receive too many calls, but the mayor and chief immediately denied that. “We can’t do it alone,” Murphy said. “We need you to be our eyes and ears.
The chief said alcohol abuse remains a big problem in the community, “but now we’re seeing black tar heroin and fentanyl overdoses and it’s spiraling out of control right now.” in response to a question, Murphy said, “Gangs from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Albuquerque and other places come here to recruit and sell drugs. It’s a big problem and it’s been going on for a long time.”
The reason the chief and mayor said people should call 911 if they see something is because many people running around are armed with axes, knives and firearms. Murphy said that “almost every stolen car that officers find, they find a gun inside.” Gard said: “We appreciate any information you can provide the police, including descriptions of clothing, direction of travel and the like.”
Christensen suggested that block parties can be a way to connect people in each neighborhood. Talabas said the material he has read indicates that two such events per year in each block zone are proposed. Mayor Gard said he would buy hot dogs and hamburgers. Chief Murphy said it was a great idea and he would have no problem issuing a permit for that type of activity. The Town Hall parking lot was determined, after further discussion, to be the best location for such an event due to its visibility.
Carol Harper came to the meeting with a proposed logo for the group she was working on with Talabas. The logo would be made into laminated signs for residents to post in their neighborhoods to let people walking through the neighborhood know residents are watching.
By consensus, the group decided to reconvene on August 11 at 7pm at City Hall to continue planning their agenda.
Wyotoday photos by Ernie Over