Former Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford retired from his position in Sept. 2020, leaving a need for a new chief. Crawford retired to accept a new position working as the Chief of the Narcotics Bureau in Montana’s Department of Justice. The city has narrowed the field of potential police chiefs down to three candidates. The three finalists are Jim Baumstark, a deputy chief from North Carolina, MSU graduate and deputy chief at the Santa Ana Police Department, Eric Paulson, and current interim chief of Bozeman, Jim Veltkamp.
“We [the city] are looking for a community-minded law enforcement professional who can build meaningful coalitions and connections with Bozeman’s many community organizations who partner closely with the community,” said Chuck Winn, Bozeman’s assistant city manager.
The police chief is responsible for ensuring the department operates within the values of the community and the policies established by the city commission, police department and city management. “They [police chiefs] provide mentorship, leadership and accountability of the department and act as a visible face for the community,” Winn said.
Six finalists were considered for the position. After interviews from the community stakeholder panel, city department heads, the city manager and the assistant city manager, the field was narrowed down to the current three candidates.
Veltkamp has been serving as the interim police chief since Crawford’s retirement. “My time as interim chief has allowed me the opportunity to build on my previous education, training and experience in this department,” Veltkamp said. His top priorities as police chief include increasing the amount of information available to the public and hiring and retaining only the highest quality candidates.
The Bozeman Police Department is authorized for 66 sworn officers. These include patrol officers, K9 officers, Drug Recognition Experts, Special Response Team members and numerous detectives. “I understand the importance of consistently seeking to improve this department. I believe we have the highest quality, best-trained officers in the state who truly want to serve this community,” Veltkamp said.
The three candidates are scheduled to be interviewed Thursday, March 18, and Friday, March 19. They will also be given a city tour and take part in a virtual community meet and greet, which will include a Q&A with the public. After the event, a conditional job offer will be made to the top candidate.