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South Valley Riverton Journal

Riverton City Councilmembers host safety townhall

Jun 04, 2024 02:00PM ● By Dylan Wilcox

Chief Wade Watkins gave a demonstration of a firetruck for curious community members and taught kids how firefighters operate heavy equipment to combat flareups. (Photo courtesy Andy Pierucci)

A townhall was hosted by Riverton City Councilmembers Andy Pierucci and Tawnee McCay as well as UFA Battalion Chief Wade Watkins and Police Chief Shane Taylor on April 11 to showcase the city’s progress in public safety. Members of the community got to experience how first responders keep the public safe.

New initiatives are being put into place such as community-oriented policing. Taylor explained community-oriented policing has “proven to be an excellent program for developing a bond between the residents and businesses we serve.”

This policing strategy allows for clear communication and districts to be created which ensures a specific response for an emergency need such as mental distress and other incidents.

“COP districts allow us to communicate directly with residents and be informed of events that must be addressed in the community,” Taylor said. “Five COP districts with law enforcement personnel receive direct emails and information from citizens to serve in non-traditional ways.”

“The one-on-one interaction with multiple outreach programs has proven to be a high benchmark for positive citizen contracts, including a basic understanding of law enforcement with a citizen academy…We feel that having a dedicated officer passionate about community-oriented policing and outreach programs will better serve the Riverton community,” Taylor said. The new initiative is being spearheaded by Officer Mike Ashley.

Watkins gave a demonstration of a firetruck for curious community members and taught kids how firefighters operate heavy equipment to combat flareups.

Shifting to a more community-focused public safety strategy will help create greater transparency between the community and first responders.

Pierucci encourages residents to be more involved. “I welcome feedback from residents. As a councilman, I can’t be everyone and see everything. I rely on people reaching out to raise issues when they arise in their neighborhoods. I strive to be responsive to the issues raised and I know our city staff do so as well. At the town hall, Chief Taylor, our police chief, really appreciated the feedback he received from residents on good locations and times for officers to do speed enforcement in their neighborhoods,” Pierucci said.

Pierucci observed that even though Riverton is a safe community, there are still certain types of crime that occur frequently.

“My council district includes Mountain View Village, and there’s been an increase in theft around Mountain View Village. Councilmember McCay has seen some similar challenges in her district. Additionally, our districts are at the forefront of road construction, which sometimes leads to traffic safety issues. We wanted to have a dialogue with residents about these issues and the work our police department and UFA does to keep our community safe,” Pierucci said.

Some other public safety issues residents brought up in the townhall are traffic safety concerns like speeding in residential neighborhoods and commercial vehicles being parked illegally on residential streets. The townhall also discussed a small uptick in theft and burglaries. According to Pierucci, there have also been challenges with the District Attorney’s office’s decision to accept plea bargains on petty theft crimes which allows lawbreakers back on the street.

Surveys conducted by the city last show most residents are satisfied with public safety. The city council hopes to host more public safety townhalls with Riverton residents. λ