Mayor Ed Williams has selected a new Police Chief for Red Lodge: Steven Hibler of Camby, Indiana. His selection is the culmination of a months-long search that drew over 60 applicants from all over the country.
Steve chose his career early in life. He took a post in the Indiana Army National Guard and joined the Indiana State Police before he turned 20 years old, and followed a parallel career that made him a Lieutenant Colonel in the National Guard and Assistant District Commander in the State Police. His work in the National Guard was not just training exercises in Indiana; he was deployed to both Iraq and Bosnia.
Through all of this, he found time to continue his education. He has a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources, a Master of Science in Management, and a Master of Science in Strategic Studies. He is also a Professor of Military Science, teaching (among other things), the United States Constitution. Steve is a big believer in community policing, and his background with the State Police and National Guard mean that he’s spent a lot of time working with other agencies.
The people who attended the public forums and focus groups were concerned about how a new Chief of Police would handle our large events, like the Home of Champions Rodeo and the Beartooth Rally. Steve has been responsible for security at the Indy 500 and other very large events in Indiana.
County Attorney Alex Nixon told the Local Rag that, “We want our new Police Chief to be someone who engages with the community and cooperates with other entities in Carbon County. It’s refreshing to think that we’ll return to a citizen-based point-of-view in policing.”
In his interview with the Rag, Steve referred to Red Lodge as a “blank canvas from a community policing perspective.” He feels that there is a lot of potential for community involvement by the police department.
Eliminating the pervasive “us vs. them” mentality in Red Lodge will also be a key responsibility of the police chief. This is why the whole town was involved in selecting a chief that will lead the department in the direction we want it to go; a chief that will talk with us, interact with us, and retune the RLPD into a set of friendly faces we see all the time instead of a group of people in uniforms that only show up when there’s a problem.
The Local Rag asked Steve a few “getting to know you” questions to gain more insight into what kind of person he is. Here’s what we asked:
Q: What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage?
A: I don’t drink much, but my favorite is Killian’s Irish Red. But don’t ever drink and drive!
Q: Why do you want to be Chief of Police in Red Lodge?
A: Why not? All I’ve known in life is law enforcement, whether military or policing. I’m looking for a place to live that will be home from now on.
Q: If you were trapped on a desert island with only one book, what would you chose?
A: The Bible… I mean what else is there to choose?
Q: “Red Lodge: Come on vacation, leave on probation!” We’ve heard this from quite a few of our rodeo and Harley rally regulars. What would you do to change that attitude?
A: I’ve worked a lot of large events back home (Indy 500, etc.) that rely largely on tourism. It comes back to the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. I’d like to see the Red Lodge police have a mission statement – one that is public – and give guidance to all officers as an agency. There’s a balance between keeping people in line and just being excessive.
Q: How would you encourage your police officers to get more involved in community events and nonprofit fundraisers?
A: I would go to some myself, and encourage the officers to go to others. Sometimes we should be in uniform and sometimes not. The way to engage the community is by getting the officers involved.
Q: There’s currently little or no cross-training between the RLPD and agencies like Red Lodge Fire Rescue. Should there be?
A: There will be! Cross-training is the right thing to do. We used to have EMS as a part of our SWAT unit. The community has so many assets and resources, you never know what some of the special skills of a person are until you involve them.
There are a few more steps to complete before Steve Hibler officially becomes Red Lodge Police Chief. He must pass physical and psychological evaluations, as well as working out final details of his contract, but Mayor Williams doesn’t foresee any problems.
“After talking with him on a number of occasions I am confident he will utilize good human resource management techniques to manage those who work for the department, will be an active member of our community and bring to our community the type of policing the community has indicated it expects from our Police Department,” Williams said.