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Gallatin County’s police departments require more personnel to keep up with expansion



Bozeman, Montana — As they attempt to keep up with a developing city, the Bozeman Police Department has been experiencing some major personnel challenges over the past year.

“It’s probably one of the best, most tight-knit group of people I’ve ever been around,” said Dalton Dewitt.

One of the three new Bozeman Police officers sworn in on April 6 at the public safety facility is Dewitt.

He travels from Virginia City Beach all the way to Bozeman.

Dewitt, fortunately, arrived in Bozeman just in time to start working from the brand-new, roomy Public Safety Center.

The lack of staff is the only problem, according to Jim Veltkamp, chief of the Bozeman Police Department.

“The city is growing so rapidly, and the authorized number of police officers we’ve been given have not kept up with this growth,” said Veltkamp.

Bozeman PD is currently only permitted to staff 67 police officers in order to stay within a predetermined budget.

According to Veltkamp, this problem has an impact on their capacity to patrol and be truly present in the neighborhood.

“When you see an officer not pull someone over for running a red light it’s because there’s so many calls pending on their computer terminal and they have to prioritize certain things,” said Veltkamp.

Additionally, the Belgrade Police Department is also no stranger to this conflict.

David Keen, the deputy chief, has worked for the Belgrade Police for roughly 23 years. He claims to have observed several significant staffing issues during that time.

“To get new people here we’ve had to do some things we’ve never had to do before,” said Keen. “Like online solicitation for positions, looking for people way outside of the area, and of course pay increases.”

Consequently, why is it so difficult to find new cops in Gallatin County?

“Cost of living is always an issue, and this job is clearly a difficult job,” said Keen.

And one that, according to Keen, isn’t currently the most well-liked.

“It’s been a difficult thing to convince folks that this is still a good, honorable job,” said Keen.

He asserts that the position will continue to draw qualified candidates who find fulfillment in giving back to their community, such as recently sworn-in Dewitt.

“If you ever want to get out and make a difference and do something that’s different every day, being a police officer is that job,” said Dewitt.


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