‘It Won’t Happen in Montana’ Thanks to Law Enforcement Academy
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After the tragic death of one suspect in Memphis, Tennessee that garnered national attention and resulted in four police officers being charged with murder, KGVO News reached out to Dave Ortley, Deputy Attorney General for the State of Montana who said he believes that with the training provided at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, such an event would not have occurred in Montana.
A Brief History of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy
Ortley first provided a capsule description of the Montana academy.
“To begin with, it's the oldest Law Enforcement Academy in the nation,” said Ortley. “It started in 1957, and it’s the central training point for all peace officers in the state of Montana. It includes police officers, police officers from within the university system there in Missoula and in Bozeman. It includes deputy sheriff's, the Highway Patrol does their initial 12 weeks of training there. Fish and Game wardens, and railroad officers. We train airport security police officers, livestock officers, and officers from motor carrier Services Department of Transportation.”
Ortley gave some examples of the training offered at the academy.
“It covers everything from community policing, to police ethics, Montana law, both constitutional law, and then statutory provisions,” he said. “The Montana Constitution’s search and seizure laws, all of the things that one would anticipate that a law enforcement officer would be trained in, such as Miranda and the right to remain silent, are all taught there. They're taught firearms, and police vehicle operation.”
Why the Memphis Tragedy would Never Happen in Montana
Ortley explained why he honestly believes that at MLEA graduate would not have participated in an event such as the tragedy in Memphis.
“Number one, I would like to believe that would never happen in Montana. When you look at use of force incidents with police officers, many of them that are generated were the result of human emotions, such as anger and fear. This is someone that needs to exercise power and control or just simply has a lack of tolerance with somebody who won't obey commands. So those are the most common reasons for that.”
Ortley also included law enforcement officers who have left their agencies in other states deliberately to come to Montana.
“When they come here, if they're a current officer and they have graduated from a police academy that is comparable to ours and that meets the Peace Officer Standards and Training, boards, requirements, they can apply to come to Montana, they can be hired. And then they have to come through a legal equivalency course, which is taught at the Law Enforcement Academy. It's a 40 hour course, where we cover first and foremost the Montana constitution and our unique constitutional structure.”
Ortley also Brought up the Markus Karma 'Castle Doctrine' Case
In closing Ortley brought up the Marcus Kaarma murder case, in which Karma laid an ambush for a teenager who tried to break into Karma’s garage and was shot to death. Karma’s attorneys attempted to use what is known as ‘the castle doctrine’, in which it was believed that a person had the right to shoot an intruder to death for simply breaking into his home. Ortley said that doctrine is not part of Montana law.
“One of the cases that we talk about is the misconceptions about the ‘castle doctrine’ in Montana, and that if somebody walks through my front door, I get to shoot them, and that is not a right. That is I use that case in my training that it does not belong in Montana. It has never been the law. But in our culture, we think ‘castle doctrine’ and it's Montana. So that's many times the beginning of my discussion of what is objectively reasonable, because people break into our houses to steal our things. And you don't get to kill people because they're stealing your things under Montana law.”
Click here to find out more about the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.