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Barthel picked as police chief

Seventeen-year Havre Police Department veteran Mike Barthel was appointed by Mayor Bob Rice as the city's new police chief this morning.

Barthel was one of four officers to apply for the job after Chief Kevin Olson resigned to take a job as administrator of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy. Barthel has been acting police chief since Olson's Feb. 27 departure.

The Havre City Council will be asked to approve Barthel's appointment during the council meeting Monday night, City Clerk Lowell Swenson said.

Neither Barthel nor Rice could be reached for comment this morning.

The decision to appoint a new chief came much sooner than expected. Rice said last week he did not plan to appoint a permanent replacement for Olson until April, and planned to narrow the field to two candidates before making a final decision. He said Thursday afternoon that he was still considering all four applicants for the job.

The other officers who applied were Lts. Stan Martin and George Tate and patrol officer Terry Frandsen.

Barthel was promoted to assistant chief of police in February of 2003. In that capacity, he served as the department's lead criminal investigator and public information officer. According to the resume he provided to Rice, his responsibilities included supervising the lieutenants and serving as a school resource officer and liaison with Havre Public Schools.

He also serves on the Adult Protective Services board and the Mental Health Awareness Council.

Barthel graduated from Dawson Community College in Glendive in 1986, and has accrued more than 2,000 hours of law enforcement training during his career. In 2001, he graduated with honors from the FBI training academy in Quantico, Va.

Barthel outlined his leadership strategy in a cover letter accompanying his resume.

"I fully believe that in order to effectively lead a team you need to have served in all aspects of the department and are capable of working with the elected and appointed government officials," he said. "Over the past 17 years, I have been promoted through every rank of the Havre Police Department from patrolman to Assistant Chief. This has been achieved through hard work, loyalty and dedication to the Department and especially the people of the City of Havre."

Barthel was named in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in which the Havre Daily News and eight other newspapers and news organizations alleged that the Police Department violated Montana law when information was blackened out in a police report turned over to a newspaper reporter. That incident occurred Jan. 12, when Olson was still chief.

The newspaper is asking a state District Court judge to order the Havre Police Department to develop and implement a policy that will require the department to provide complete copies of all initial incident reports requested by the public during regular business hours.

Olson and Tate, as well as the city of Havre, were also named in the lawsuit. Rice and the City Attorney's Office have declined to comment about the suit.


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