West Yellowstone police being investigated

West Yellowstone Police Department
Snow covers the West Yellowstone police station in this January 2011 file photo. (West Yellowstone News photo)

Our friends at KBZK are reporting tonight that the West Yellowstone Police Department and its veteran chief, Gordon Berger, are the subject of a investigation by the state’s Department of Criminal Investigations.

We don’t have the story, but rest assured we will tomorrow. In the meantime, the quote from a West Yellowstone town councilman says a lot to me about how things work in the more remote portions of this very large county (all quotation errors are sic):

“We kind of run our own we are a remote community and a lot of the things that are done down here aren’t subject to some of the things that go on in a bigger metropolitan area, we kinda run our own thing down here and sometimes it’s not always right and sometimes we’ve not always reached out for the proper instructions or the guidance that we need.” Said Town Councilman Greg Foresyth

We reported on issues with the department in early 2011, shortly after a majority of officers in the department signed a letter expressing “no confidence” in Berger.

The letter offered few details and interviews mostly questioned the chief’s leadership skills. The article also noted that Berger has been reprimanded several times, first in 1990 over a missing handgun and again in 1998 for an undisclosed reason.

Berger became chief in 2006. A year later, the city attorney wrote to him about parking tickets being given out, allegedly, unfairly. In 2008, a former animal control officer and parking official resigned, citing “the favoritism that is being shown to certain town residents.”

The town manager in 2011 told the Chronicle that Berger was a “good community officer” who understands “you can only police a community in the way it wants to be policed.”