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Finalists named in Kalispell’s search for new police chief

January 1, 2019

Kalispell is getting closer to selecting a new chief of police.

The city will hold an open house at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 14, in council chambers at City Hall the two finalists for the job - current Kalispell Police Capt. Doug Overman and John Wesley Bruce, the current chief of police in Frisco, Texas.

“We are excited to have these two candidates participating in the final interview stage in January, and are encouraged by their respective experience, competencies, and abilities,” Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell said. “As this is an important position for the Kalispell community, we look forward to filling it with an individual committed to the department’s long-term success.”

Russell said it is anticipated a selection will be made during the week of Jan. 14.

Overman and Bruce each have extensive experience in law enforcement and public safety work.

Overman earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminology in 1995 from the University of Montana. There is little he hasn’t done with the Kalispell Police Department since joining it in 2000. He has served on the Major Crime Unit, and was a School Resource Officer and coordinator, detective, hostage negotiator, bike patrol instructor and coordinator, and patrol sergeant.

Overman has been the investigations captain since 2016. He was also named the Montana Police Officer of the Year.

Prior to joining KPD, Overman was a wildland firefighter with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, a case manager with Missoula Correctional Services and a probation and parole officer with the Montana Department of Corrections.

Overman also has been very active in the community, volunteering with numerous groups, including Cub Scouts, Flathead CARE, Faith Free Lutheran Church, Flathead Cycling Club and Foys to Blacktail Trails.

Bruce has been chief of police in Frisco since February 2013. He oversaw a department that had 215 sworn officers for a city of 177,270 residents.

Bruce was the assistant chief of police in Frisco for a decade prior to becoming chief, and its captain from 1998 to 2003. He was the detective sergeant for a couple of years prior to that.

His law enforcement career began in Allen, Texas, where he worked as a patrol officer from 1986 to 1996.

Bruce has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Master’s of Public Affairs, both from the University of Texas at Dallas. He also attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy.

According to a story on communityimpact.com, Bruce was a candidate for the chief of police position in Spokane, Washington, in 2016 but the interim chief there got the job.

His community involvement includes volunteering for the Boy Scouts of America.

It’s been more than a year since former Chief Roger Nasset stepped down after nearly 24 years with the department, including 12 as chief.

Up until about a month ago, the interim chief was Administrative Capt. Wade Rademacher. Rademacher retired from the department Nov. 29, after working for it since 1994.

Tim Falkner took over as interim chief Nov. 30. He said previously he was not seeking the chief position.

The city halted its search for a chief in June before resuming it in October.

The salary range for the non-union position is pegged at 108,775 per year, which is a slight increase from what it originally was after a 1.5 percent increase went into effect in July as an annual cost of living raise for city employees.

There were 58 applications received for the job.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com

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