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RPD chief's pay tops among county's law enforcement officials

May 20, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The highest-paid law enforcement officer in Fremont County is Riverton chief of police Mike Broadhead. Recent public notices illustrate differences in compensation across the county.

Chief Broadhead, at nearly $90,000 per year, made more than either Lander chief of police Jim Carey, who earns $78,000, or Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker, an elected official whose salary is $75,000.

None of the base figures includes benefits. They were computed based on monthly salary as of Jan. 31 published in legal notices found in The Ranger.

Riverton's police department includes patrol and dispatch service and about 36 employees. The Lander Police Department only includes a patrol service and has about 22 employees. The Fremont County Sheriff's Office oversees 89 employees throughout a patrol service, dispatch center and the county jail.

RPD serves a population of close to 11,000,

according to the 2010 census, across an area of 9.9 square miles. LPD serves a population of about 7,500 across 4.7 square miles. The sheriff's office serves 40,000 people, many of whom are also served by municipal police or the Wind River Police Department, spread across 9,300 square miles.

Median salaries for patrol officers among the three agencies are similar, but Lander's is the lowest. The median sheriff's deputy in the patrol division is paid $44,000, which is also the median salary for a Riverton police officer. Lander police officers are paid a median income of $42,000, about 4 percent less than the other services.

For sergeants, the rank above deputy or officer, the median salaries varied more. Sheriff's office sergeants make about $50,000 per year, LPD sergeants earn about $55,000, or 10 percent more, and RPD sergeants bring in $61,500, or 12 percent more than LPD.

The county reported it had 21 patrol deputies in January and 10 sergeants, Riverton counted 18 patrol officers and four sergeants, and Lander had 11 police officers and four sergeants.

Lander City Council president Nancy Pieropan thought her city could be paying lower wages than others because its officers were hired more recently and have not received as many raises. She does not think the lower pay impacts its ability to compete for good law enforcement workers.

"A couple of officers we have hired out of Riverton in the not too distant past, so we are able to maintain and have good officers," Pieropan said.

RPD dispatchers typically are paid about 17 percent more than the same position in the sheriff's office. The median RPD dispatcher yearly salary is $43,000 and that of sheriff's office dispatchers is $36,000.

Fremont County Commission chairman Doug Thompson thought the lack of longevity among the county's dispatchers could account for their lower relative pay as well.

"Most of our dispatchers are fairly new," he said. "If you watch, they're always hiring new people."

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