Posted: Sep 13, 2013 4:43 PM by Judy Slate - MTN News
Serious safety concerns about the West Yellowstone Police Department have been raised by the Gallatin County Sheriff.
Sheriff Brian Gootkin says the problems with the West Yellowstone department are serious enough that the National Park Service has suspended their mutual aid contract with the town.
"My main concern, obviously, are the citizens of West Yellowstone and their safety," said Gootkin in a phone interview. Gootkin is attending the National Sheriff's Institute in Colorado.
He says concerned citizens, members of law enforcement and the park service recently contacted him with concerns.
"In reference to the West Yellowstone police department training and some situations that have been going on with the police department," Gootkin said.
But not everyone in the city is concerned. West Yellowstone Town Manager Becky Guay says she was "stunned and taken aback," by the sheriff's concerns.
"That's part of the problem," said Gootkin. "This isn't just an overnight thing, this is something that's been building up for a long period of time."
Gootkin's biggest concern is a lack of training by officers. He met with West Yellowstone Police Chief Gordon Berger last week and earlier this week two Gallatin County lieutenants also met with the police chief. They will report back to the sheriff who will make a list of recommendations to fix the problems with the police department.
"We will work together with West Yellowstone to address these issues and make sure that those citizens are safe - period," Gootkin said.
For now, if the Yellowstone Park Rangers need assistance, they'll call on the sheriff's department not West Yellowstone PD.