It was a bittersweet moment for this reporter to visit with Missoula Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh one last time before his well-deserved retirement on Friday.

Welsh was a Detective Sergeant with over 20 years of experience when then Police Chief Mike Brady tabbed him to be the official media voice of the police department. Welsh knew he would be facing reporters with long experience of spokespersons who had to toe the ‘company line’ in dispensing information.

“A lot of that had to do with breaking down some barriers and getting the people that I met with daily to let down their shield a little bit, and that included me,” said Welsh. I needed to make myself a little vulnerable as well, and begin to establish from the ground up a new relationship, and let them see that there are people that they can relate to down at the PD and that there are people that they can trust and that they know will be honest with them.”

Especially with major crimes over the past several years, as a spokesman for the police department Welsh also faced the challenge of disseminating information that had the potential to affect the outcome of a criminal trial.

“I had all that knowledge of not only patrol tactics but strategies and detectives,” he said. “I knew the prosecutors. I knew how the prosecutors worked. I knew how they like to get their cases and the information that they thought was important that may not be necessarily available to the general public because it is confidential criminal justice information.”

Expanding on that point, Welsh described the line he had to walk on a daily basis to serve the media as well as the police department.

“That's where some of the experience in investigations really comes into play,” he said. “Knowing what kind of information is imperative to protect the integrity of a case is just so crucial, and in cases like you describe, we also need to be sensitive to the fact that there are family members out there who are devastated and going through a tremendous emotional roller coaster and going through the grieving process.”

Closing out the interview, Welsh provided some final thoughts.

“I felt like I was contributing and doing something that was meaningful,” he said. So, as I leave here today, that's what I'm going to carry with me, is that it's kind of a cliché. You know, people might ask themselves, did you make a difference? I don't know if I could answer that question. But what I can say is that the things I did here were meaningful. And I can't I really can't say any more than that. I mean, that's, that's going to carry me through as I leave the station today.”

Welsh’s replacement is the new Public Information Officer Lydia Arnold.

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