Upton Police Focus on Community
Monday, April 19, 2021
When Susan Bridge got into law enforcement, she began what became a lifelong ambition to provide safety for people who could not provide for themselves. Now, as Chief of Police in Upton, Wyoming for the past five years, she is known throughout the state as a resource to other law enforcement offices seeking to follow that goal as well.
Bridge leads a force of two other officers - Senior Officer David Larson, with 25 years of law enforcement experience, and “The Kid,” Kevin Allen, who has been on the job for four years. Together, they have demonstrated a dedication to help both their local Upton community and greater Wyoming.
“We are very lucky to be in a smaller area where we can spend time to help the individuals in our community,” she said. “We try to focus on preemptive actions people can take to be aware of their responsibility in their own safety and that of others around them.”
Bridge’s activities span both the local and statewide scene. She is a guest instructor at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in Douglas. Several times a year, Bridge will teach courses on domestic violence for law enforcement personnel from across the state.
She is also on the Board of Directors for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, helping teach self-defense classes focused on how to be aware of one's surroundings to avoid situations but also offers tips like breakaway techniques.
“We have a very safe community in Upton, where a person is not likely to be attacked,” said Bridge. “But we all visit higher traffic areas to go shopping or other activities and we want people to be aware then.”
Bridge uses those skills to lead her office through a number of services across Weston County. The department teaches classes for self-care during the COVID-19 crisis and goes into all levels of schools to educate students on human trafficking safety and providing options on how to get out of those situations. One of her favorites is the Shop with a Cop program, hosted by the Weston County Peace Officers Association. Upton police officers, Weston County Sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and park rangers spend the day with fifth-graders. Starting with a 6:00 a.m. breakfast and followed by a parade and shopping together with funds from donations, the kids are able to experience a positive interaction with law enforcement.
Beyond classes, Bridge finds other unique ways to be a service to the community. Regarding mental wellness, Bridge said the local area has limited resources available, so she has come up with some unique options, thinking outside the box.
“We have opened up the police office to let individuals meet with their counselor or to utilize a laptop to have a Zoom conference in a safe place,” she said. “We’ve even driven around with individuals in our squad car while they are having an episode, just to keep them from being alone.”
Bridge’s impact on the community can be felt everywhere. When she arrived, there was some confusion over the similarities between the Police Department and the Sheriff Office uniforms. As they rebranded their uniforms, Bridge designed a new badge that has been received with unbelievable positivity.
“I have been personally contacted by chiefs from all across the country interested in the design,” she said. “The notoriety is very exciting!”
Focus on Community
While always seeking to help others, taking some time off to raise her children in the ‘90’s helped develop her focus on community, yet sharpened her policing skills at the same time.
“I always taught my kids to quickly forgive, be kind at all costs and be combat-ready. I want to teach that to this community, always being part of the solution and not the problem,” she said. “Raising my kids sharpened my policing skills because they required a lot of the same skills - interrogation, dispute resolution and de-escalation.”
The move to Upton has been a perfect match for Bridge. She resides in an old grocery store next to the police station that she has refurbished into a liveable space.
“That undertaking taught me about the community, endearing me to them,” she said. “As a result, I have become especially fond of the Upton residents and want to do what I can to help them live great lives together.”
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