On Friday December 9th, a host of new Montana law enforcement officers graduated from the Law Enforcement Academy to much fanfare. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox explains.

"We had the 160th class of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy graduated here today in Helena," said Fox. "There were 57 new officers form all over the state and different state agencies. We had Highway Patrol Troopers, County Deputies and Police Officers."

More than ten percent of the graduates will be headed back to Missoula County.

"We actually had six officers that graduated and were sworn in from Missoula," Fox said. "There were two sheriff's deputies, three Police Department officers and an officer for the Missoula Airport Authority, so it was a banner day."

Douglas Hartsell and Forrest Merrill are the new hires at the Missoula County Sheriff’s office. Chea Hollis, Mandy Wilson, and Brandon Geher will work for the Missoula Police Department and Kelly Miller will work at the Missoula International Airport. Merrill and Hollis were both selected from their class for extra recognition:

Merrill received the Don Williams Award, which is given to the officer elected by the class as Class Representative. The award is given in memory of Thompson Falls Police Chief Don Williams, who was killed in the line of duty in 1974.

Hollis received the Health and Physical Fitness Award, which is given to the officer(s) in each class who participates and excels in the Hard Rock Challenge and achieves the class’s best score in the Montana Physical Abilities Test. Chea N. Hollis also received the Joe May Award, which is given to the office in each class who displays exceptional leadership and an incredible sense of motivation. The award is given in honor of the late Joe May, one of the people credited with the conception and creation of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.