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Libby officials begin work of rebuilding depleted police force

Daily Inter Lake | June 14, 2023 12:00 AM

The Libby Police Commission, city officials and chief of police are working together to replenish the depleted ranks of the Libby Police Department.

The city has received 12 applications for open police officer positions, Police Chief Cody Ercanbrack said in a recent email. Of those applicants, the Police Commission approved seven. The city hopes to fill two positions and have the new hires finish the police academy before hiring other officers, Ercanbrack said.

“We currently have applicants with military experience, reserve officer experience and security experience,” he said of the candidates.

Becoming a police officer is a long process. To begin the lengthy process, on June 3, the applicants were to have taken a written test on June 3 with a physical test to follow. Officer candidates will also be interviewed by a panel, Ercanbrack said.

“If they pass all of that, they will have a one-on-one interview with me. That information will be gathered and presented to the mayor along with my recommendation,” Ercanbrack said. “She will then make a choice on who we hire.”

Prospective officers would then receive employment offers – under the condition that they pass a thorough background check, psychological evaluation and health evaluation.

“Once that is done and they are cleared, we will officially hire them and move forward at that point,” Ercanbrack said.

The officers will be required to attend the Montana Law Enforcement Academy within one year of being hired and passing all required tests. Academy training lasts 12 weeks.

The officers will begin field training in Lincoln County when possible because it depends on when the Police Academy starts.

“Field training is four months long, where they ride with a senior officer to learn how to take calls of service, talk to people and protect the community,” Ercanbrack said.

Academy training covers many topics, but in general, officers will practice and learn the following disciplines: law and criminal procedure, human behavior and social interaction, patrol operations, traffic enforcement, investigations, how to handle sexual assault cases, survival skills, and health and wellness.

After the officers have finished their full training, they are prepared to serve the public with “a high level of professionalism and competence,” Ercanbrack said.

“They have a long journey ahead of them, but it will be worth it if they do their best and endure! If any applicants expect to work for the Libby Police Department, they are to have to maintain a 'never give up' attitude and our agencies’ core values,” the chief said.

Ercanbrack said the Libby Police Department prides itself on its core values of leadership, integrity, fairness, teamwork, respect, personal accountability and customer service.

“Most importantly, our new applicants and future officers need to understand our mantra ‘We are public servants, the safety of the public is more important than our own. It is not what we do; it is who we are!’” Ercanbrack said.