RPDR00;chief back on the job; still waiting for word on request for med retirement

Apr 21, 2020 By Clair McFarland, Staff Writer

After four weeks of late-winter sick leave due to a stroke, and one application for retirement, Riverton Police Department Chief Eric Murphy is back at work.

His department has responded to one murder and one officer-involved shooting since his return in mid-March.

Murphy's return was not timed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but he was glad to be back from his hiatus in time for it, he told The Ranger in an interview.

RPD, like other police forces in the county, effected a partial shut-down of non-essential operations to limit coronavirus spread amid pandemic concerns.

"I kinda got thrown to the wolves a little bit with this coronavirus," said Murphy of the procedural changes confronting his department the week he rejoined it. "But here I am."

Retirement application

Murphy applied for medical retirement in late January due to a stroke he suffered Sept. 15, 2019, which he said robbed him of some short-term memory function.

"Especially for the chief of police, I think, (short-term memory) is huge," he said when asked in February if the stroke made his job difficult.

However, after months of silence from the state retirement board, and general bureaucratic sluggishness due to enforced closures from Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon's office, Murphy is, for now, doing what's necessary.

"I'm at the point now, where if I get the retirement I'll take it - but I don't really care now. I'm just good. So we'll see what happens" he said.

Murphy attributes his stroke to a possible cause of post-traumatic stress disorder, from 23 years in law enforcement and 15 years in the military.

"I was involved in a shooting 10 years ago," he said, adding that "just all the dead bodies we deal with, and dead children, and all that kind of stuff," have affected his overall health.

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