MISSOULA – Officer Randy Krastel had dreams of one day becoming a park ranger, but those dreams changed once he started attending the University of Montana.
Now he has been a member of the Missoula Police force for 14 years.
Recently, Krastel has taken on a new role for the department as a downtown business improvement district officer.
“This is a total change from what I was doing the first 14 years of patrol work. It’s more community policing. I’m outdoors, out on the street wearing a high-visibility shirt so people see me,” Krastel said. “I get a lot of ‘thank you’s’, a lot more than I expected.”
While Krastel hasn’t been in his new role very long, he credits his personal connection to the people in downtown Missoula for the success he has had so far.
“And that’s because they know me as Randy, they don’t know me as Officer Krastel. They don’t know me as a badge number,” Krastel said. “They know me as Randy, so there’s already a connection there of this person is also a human being. This person cares, and I believe that if I go talk to him about something very minor that I probably wouldn’t have called 911 about, I get a chance to talk to a human being about it and we can sit down and I feel that the business owner or the homeless person or transient or just person on the street, I’m, hoping has a sense they can talk to me about anything.”
He says his ability to talk with people from all walks of life, without passing judgement, is key to those personal connections.
“I’m really good with people. I like all of walks of life and so I don’t judge in my personal life,” Krastel said. “I don’t judge, that was never me, so it’s actually easy for me to talk to somebody who’s 20 years old or talk to somebody whose 80 years old.”
Krastel is originally from Maryland, and while he says Missoula is a little different, he enjoys calling the Garden City home.
“It is a different place. It is different from where I grew up, very culturally-diverse from one side all the way to the other,” Krastel said. “It took me a little while to get used to that too but I like it a lot.”
Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News