HELENA — After a little over six months as Chief of Police, MTN caught up with Brett Petty to see how recruitment for officers is going in the department.
Brett Petty took over as Interim Chief in December of 2021 and was officially hired as Helena’s Police Chief in June of 2022.
In one of MTN’s first interviews with Chief Petty he identified recruiting as one of his top priorities.
When Petty took over as Interim, they were about eight officers below the 53-person limit. Since then, he has hired half a dozen officers; which leaves them two away from a full staff. And as they head into a new hiring cycle, they hope to fill those last spots.
“We've taken more of an opportunity to sit down with them and say, this is what the Helena Police Department's about, this is what we mean to the community, and this is what we do for the community,” says Petty.
Petty attributes this success to not only luck, but offering ride-a-longs, local recruitment, and an online ad campaign.
The chief says it’s important to have a full staff in order to evenly distribute the workload among officers leading to less burnout and better community involvement.
Nathaniel Weems is one of the recently recruited officers.
“Ideally, more guys on the streets, not just that but more resources. Once we get, fill all the seats for the street, every patrol car is filled, we have an opportunity to put more people on detectives, more people doing this, which gives us an opportunity to just do more when it comes to solving crimes, community involvement, all these things. It opens up our schedule and our opportunities,” says Weems.
Even with the success, Petty acknowledges that there is no one easy way to recruit.
“And no, I don't have a magic formula for getting people here. I thought about, Randy wouldn’t like this, but my captain, I thought about putting him on the corner there with the arrow. We're hiring. But he didn't go for that,” says Petty.