Ronan Police Appoint New Chief After Firing Two - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Ronan Police Appoint New Chief After Firing Two

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RONAN -

After hiring and firing two different leaders in just six months, the Ronan Police Department now has a new chief.

Mayor of Ronan, Kim Aipperspach, said former Police Chief Valent Maxwell was a nice guy, who had moved from Alaska to take the job just 11 weeks ago.

Aipperspach said, "I'm sure this is a different situation than he'd had up north where he came from."

But, he said Maxwell and tribal and county leaders had differing opinions on how the department should be run. 

"In the end, I did give him a letter of termination."

Maxwell was filling the shoes of a 20-year veteran on the force, former Police Chief Dan Wadsworth. Wadsworth was suspended in July after he falsified a Montana Law Enforcement Academy application for his son.

Officials said low resources and a high crime rate can make it very difficult to hold onto personnel at the small police department.

Aipperspach said there was some concern about public safety while they worked to fill the position, but Ronan's location worked to their advantage.

"Between the city, the county, the tribe, and the highway patrol, we have very good coverage," Aipperspach said.

Then on Tuesday, Ronan City Council voted to promote Sergeant John Mitchell to chief of the small department of five officers.

"It's been stressful it's been hard on the guys," Mitchell said. "I think it's to the point where if it had kept going, I don't think the guys would have burned out completely."

Mitchell said he thinks Maxwell was simply unprepared to tackle the job in Ronan.

"Working with him was just… I don't think he was anticipating the crime rate we have here and what goes on here," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said his squad is stretched thin, working traffic, felony investigations and civil standby's.

As the new chief, Mitchell said he hopes to pass levies in order to hire 2-3 more officers.

"Five just ain't enough for Ronan, it just doesn't cut it."

Chief Mitchell was born and raised in St. Ignatius and has served on the Ronan police force for about five years.

He is currently on a probationary period for one year, and if it goes well, he'll remain on as chief permanently.

 

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