By Tim Leeds
Havre Chief of Police Michael Shortell said after 32 years on the force and 13 years as the chief he's decided it's time to open a new chapter in his life.
Shortell's resignation, effective Aug. 31, was accepted by the Havre City Council at a Monday night meeting. He started with the department on July 1, 1968.
Mayor Phyllis Leonard said she plans to choose between Assistant Chief of Police Kevin Olson and Captain Mark Stolen to replace Shortell. She said she will present her choice to the council for their approval at the Sept. 5 council meeting.
Shortell said he has been thinking about retiring for some time, and now seemed like a good time to do it. He said the police force is in good shape, and has pretty much achieved the goals he had set for it.
He said he's going to miss the people he works with, in all departments but especially from the police force, but he thinks it's time to start a new adventure somewhere.
Shortell said the Havre City Council and Leonard have been wonderful to work with.
"I cannot speak highly enough of them as a body," he said. "There's a lot of work involved in that job, and some of it's thankless I've always appreciated it."
He said Leonard has been especially good to work with. He said she is very progressive, and extremely supportive of the city's department heads. He said she deserves a lot of the credit in progress that has been made in different departments and parts of the city during her tenure as mayor.
Shortell said he has really enjoyed his career with the Havre police.
"It's been a real rush," he said. "A lot of heartache and a lot of joy."
He said the people he has met and worked with over the years have been part of the pleasure of his job. He said the people on the police force over the years have been a very dedicated, hardworking bunch, with a great desire to do the work required of them and deal with the tremendous demands placed on them.
Shortell said an awful lot has changed since he joined the force. He said the job itself is considerably different. While knowledge of laws and procedures are still the basis of the job, he said, officers now have to have considerable knowledge of computers, since police work is now highly computerized.
He said one of the things that has changed is hiring procedures. When he first heard of a job on the force, he said, he and his wife Shirley were in Missoula. She was working at the University of Montana, and he was considering going to school there, he said, when he received a call about the job. He said the police commissioner asked him if he could be in Havre on Sunday to interview.
Shortell said he got the call the next day telling him he had the job. On July 1, 1968, he said, he came up, filled out some paperwork, and the chief handed him a badge and a gun and told him where to go to get his uniform. Things are done a little differently now, he said.
Shortell said he's not sure what he will do once he's retired. He said he plans to take a couple of months to "decompress," then decide what to do. He said he's not the kind of person who can sit around not doing anything.
Shortell said he's kind of interested in doing volunteer work. He said there are a lot of good things going on in Havre, and once he has some spare time he would like to get involved. He said during the winter he and his wife will probably travel to visit family and friends.
Shortell said he has really enjoyed working in public service, with and for the city. He said while he doesn't really have any definite plans, running for political office could be one of the new adventures he takes in the future.