At the Red Lodge council meeting last week, Mayor Ed Williams outlined the requirements he wants fulfilled for the new police chief. The council voted to approve the services of Prothman, a consulting firm based in Issaquah, Wash. for $18,500. The firm specializes in providing national and regional executive recruitment services to cities and counties. The firm’s Project Leader is Robert Carden who has 37 years of law enforcement and will conduct the interviews. “The City,” said Williams, “expects to hear from 40 candidates of which 15 will be looked at and we will weed those down to 4-5. A retired police chief will interview these people and he will know what to ask.”
The Mayor stated that the new chief of police “must possess a skill set that will help make the police department a top-of-the-line department that is highly respected by our community.” “They must possess the following key qualities,” explained Williams, “Community outreach, they are the face of policing (safety) in our community. To work with local residents, including our schools is essential. To understand we are a tourist-based economy and our policing activities must accommodate that reality and ensure our visitors feel welcome. The successful candidate must have experience with community oriented policing and must set the moral tone for the department, promoting high ethical behavior. I expect a strong leader with vision and a good communicator, able to connect with people and deal with the news media.” Williams added, “It will be the most important hire we will make this year.” The present police chief, Richard Pringle retires, Feb. 28. The council moved on to approve the street dance closure of 13th Street East for Blue Ribbon Bar during the Beartooth Rally.
Rocky Roberts, owner of the Blue Ribbon Bar, was present at the meeting and was told that Chief Pringle had some concerns about the security Roberts was arranging and requested that the security hired by the bar could meet with the police first to see what the plan is. Roberts didn’t think it was “feasible” but would try to get a few of them here first. Chief Pringle made the request because in a statement he was concerned about “bouncers who are not trained in law enforcement” and “have no authority except to check ids and monitor admittance to the enclosed area.” “There is always a crowd control issue in the alley, on the sidewalks and on Broadway at the barricades with people wanting to stand in the traffic lane. The Chief of Police would have no control over the bouncers’ actions and as sometimes happens, they could become part of the problem,” wrote Chief Pringle. Roberts questioned the $1,000 fee he is charged to hold the street dance and how was it picked? Council member Maryvette Labrie said it is “random” number.
“Chief Pringle outlined the cost (for extra policing) and it comes to $4,200. We didn’t feel it was justified to charge you that, so just added this $1,000,” she said. Roberts still felt the amount for a street dance was “way out of line” saying he’d talked to retired police and visited with people in other places and they felt the same. “At the Super Bowl there were only 4,000 cops for 70,000 people. I feel we need some kind of formula to justify why I’m paying $1,000, (as the street dance is) only open 8 hours, and what am I paying for?” he said. The council turned to the issue of the city’s request to create seasonal no parking on Broadway Ave. for a couple of hours to facilitate snow removal between 3 a.m. – 5 a.m. along Broadway, everyday during winter. Mandatory towing will apply if vehicles have not been moved. Forrest Sanderson, Community Development Director, said he had received a letter from the Montana Department of Transportation outlining a four-step plan. The council hopes to have this ready for next winter.
The council voted to approve a grant request to the Montana Department of Transportation for approximately $50,000 to pay for mobile date terminals, body cameras and in-car video systems. The Airport Right of Way project was discussed. Sanderson explained that Red Lodge Surveying is overseeing this for the city. “Airport Road, as we thought, meandered across lands owned by the City of Red Lodge, but last week we discovered this is not the case,” said Sanderson. “Down towards the southern end of the airport, before you turn into the rodeo grounds, we found that Airport Road does not sit completely on City lands, in fact a big chunk runs across three blocks owned by a private indivudal who agreed to give the City the land. That was very generous. It could have tied our hands.” The goal of both the City and the County is to pave the road. Because of the realignment of Airport Road, the walk trail will need rerouting. Finally, Mike Majerus was appointed to the Carbon County Historic Preservation Commission.