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Law Enforcement Careers in Montana

Law enforcement careers in Montana are found at the state, county, and city levels. Most Montana police training is administered through the Montana Law Enforcement Testing Consortium (MTLETC), though some agencies have opted to develop and maintain their own independent training programs.

Jobs with the Montana Highway Patrol

The Montana Highway Patrol is comprised of 243 troopers who issue more than 185,000 tickets per year. The MHP responds to over 160,000 calls for service each year, with the combined force driving more than 5.5 million miles. When not on patrol, troopers give presentations addressing important highway safety topics such as seat belts, the dangers of driving while intoxicated, and child car safety.

Law Enforcement Jobs in Montana: Sheriff’s Departments

Sheriff’s department jurisdictions may also include cities that are not large enough to support their own police department, such as Butte.

Yellowstone County: The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department is in charge of local law enforcement activities as well as maintaining the Yellowstone County Detention Facility, built in 1987. The facility has a capacity for 274 inmates, and incorporates a supervision method based on the latest theories known as, “direct supervision.” Corrections officer candidates are preferred to have experience in a related field or previous experience which developed related skills. Deputy candidates must pass a written test administered by the Montana Law Enforcement Testing Consortium (MTLETC).

 

Missoula County: Missoula County stretches over 2,600 square miles, and sheriff’s department patrol units will cover over 750,000 miles during one year’s worth of driving, writing about 3,000 reports. The sheriff’s department provides services in its detention facility, and with its patrol, detective, coroner, and special response units.

Cascade County: Some of the Cascade County Sheriff’s Department’s most popular public services are dog control and the issuance of concealed weapons permits. They also maintain birth and death records, and issue several types of permits. Sheriff’s deputies work closely with the Great Falls Police Department to ensure citizens and property can exist in peace. The deputy employment process includes passing a written exam and oral interview.

Police Jobs in Montana: Municipal Departments

Billings: According to the most recent statistics released by the Billings Police Department, officers responded to 12,283 cases of criminal activity in a period of one year. 3,631 of these crimes were categorized as larceny and 2,437 were listed under the category of criminal mischief. Applicants must become certified through the MTLETC agency.

Missoula: The Missoula Police Department has adopted the broken window theory as its philosophical basis. This holds that if citizens see a window is broken and not repaired they will conclude there is an absence of responsibility. To prevent this and crime in general, Missoula police address all small crimes before they can grow into something larger. Minimum background qualifications for officer jobs are confidential and not released by the MPD.

Great Falls: The Great Falls Police Department had a humble beginning in 1888 with a police chief and a deputy comprising the total police force. Today the force has grown to include 65 vehicles and 85 officers who enforce the laws and educate the public. Potential employees must be eligible for and pass a test proctored by the MTLETC.

Bozeman: In 2011 the Bozeman Police Department had a total of 65 officers who responded to 46,010 calls for service. The 2012 projected budget is $6.7 million and is allocated to support personnel as well as the maintenance of the department’s 40 vehicles. There are over 37,000 residents in Bozeman, a city that spans over 19 square miles. Candidates for employment must be processed through the MTLETC.

Helena: The Helena Police Department has partnered with the Crime Stoppers tip program to increase the amount of cases solved. The most recent statistics indicate this partnership has led to 323 arrests and the recovery of over $678,000 with an additional $450,000 in stolen property. The Helena PD is a member of the MTLETC.

Montana Law Enforcement Salaries

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition, the median Montana law enforcement salaries in 2010 were as follows:

  • Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers: $45,950
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: $61,290
  • Supervisors of Police and Detectives: $64,830

Salaries for Detectives and Criminal Investigators throughout Montana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Great Falls MT
60
86550
Missoula MT
50
71960
Eastern Montana nonmetropolitan area
80
65150
Central Montana nonmetropolitan area
120
65750
Southwestern Montana nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
64070
Western Montana nonmetropolitan area
80
78260

Police Officer and Sheriff Salary in Montana

The average police officer salary in Montana varies between municipalities. As an example, the Missoula Police Department states that it requires a 1-year probationary period. During that time, police officers are paid an annual salary of $46,728.

At the Great Falls Police Department, police officers are paid as follows:

  • Initial base salary: $44,100
  • After first year probationary period: $45,954
  • Senior Police Officer (includes longevity pay after two years): $53,015

The Bozeman Police Department offers lateral-level police officers, which are those with previous law enforcement experience with full police powers and duties, a starting salary range between $46,140 and $50,425. They also offer additional incentive pay for police officers with a college degree.

Salaries for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers throughout Montana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Billings MT
260
49530
Great Falls MT
120
52330
Missoula MT
130
52070
Eastern Montana nonmetropolitan area
230
41990
Central Montana nonmetropolitan area
270
37310
Southwestern Montana nonmetropolitan area
490
49500
Western Montana nonmetropolitan area
330
41890

State Trooper Salary in Montana

The state trooper salary in Montana starts at approximately $32,609. This is the recruit salary and includes time spent completing the Law Enforcement Officer Basic Course and MHP Advanced Traffic Enforcement Course. Upon completion of training, state troopers are paid as probationary troopers at an annual wage of $40,761.

Salaries for Police Supervisors and Detectives throughout Montana

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Missoula MT
40
73140
Eastern Montana nonmetropolitan area
30
57930
Central Montana nonmetropolitan area
50
55950
Southwestern Montana nonmetropolitan area
70
66150
Western Montana nonmetropolitan area
60
75320

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