A Conversation with New Missoula Police Chief Jaeson White
After a nationwide search, Mayor John Engen chose former California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Jaeson White, whose first day on the job was March 2.
Chief White sat down with KGVO News on Thursday to discuss his thoughts about some of the recent events that have occurred between the retirement of Chief Mike Brady and his first day as chief.
One of those events was a fatal officer involved shooting. White said there are standard procedures in any law enforcement agency.
“First and foremost, there’s an immediate response to make sure that the scene is safe,” began Chief White. “We ensure that appropriate assistance has been provided to the involved subject and the involved officers. After that initial response you start looking into an objective, fair and impartial investigation into what transpired.”
Following the incident that occurred on February 12, when a police officer believed his rear window was shot out, there was a massive response by all available law enforcement agencies that closed down part of downtown Missoula for several hours while heavily armed officers, deputies and troopers were on rooftops and stationed at strategic positions throughout the area, in addition to what looked like an armored vehicle.
Some complained that Missoula law enforcement had been ‘militarized’. White responded.
“No, we have not been militarized,” he said. “It is an appropriate piece of equipment for specific tasks. If we have an active shooter situation which is the information you have on hand, you need to be able to get first responder personnel into that area to provide help to the public and to any of those officers who may be trapped. It’s going to need to be in a protected vehicle, and that is for public safety. For no other reason other than the safety of the community and the safety of the officers involved in that particular task.”
White was asked if he has had an opportunity to learn about the history of the Missoula Police Department by visiting with some of the former chiefs.
“One of the former chiefs reached out to me,” he said. “In fact, I had an email sitting in my queue when I fired up my computer for the first time on Monday saying that he was going to be (at the I Run for Bob Heinle poker tournament) event on Saturday, so I’ll go, but I’m not going to let them take my money at the poker tournament, but I am going to meet with some of the retired chiefs and other retired officers to start getting that history, so that I can learn the history and traditions of this department.”
White said he is looking forward to being an active member of the Missoula community.