Reality Check

Reading Between the Thin Blue Line

If Flathead County commissioner candidate Jason Parce has any respect for the office he seeks he should do the honorable thing and drop out of the race.

By Tammi Fisher

The Flathead County Commission race is heating up. Without a Democrat in the race, the winner will be decided in the Republican primary. There are four candidates in the race, and one has made headlines recently. Jason Parce is a former Kalispell police officer. That fact wouldn’t usually raise eyebrows, as typically, a law enforcement background lends credibility to a candidate in our neck of the woods. What causes concern about Mr. Parce as a candidate is that his departure from the Kalispell Police Department may not have occurred of Parce’s own volition. And without further information, Parce has left voters in a precarious position where his credibility as a candidate is questioned.

Montana law limits employers to saying very little when employees leave their employment. In addition, as the local police are a bargaining unit with union protections, very little can be disclosed by the city about Mr. Parce’s tenure at the Kalispell Police Department. The one person who can candidly and without restriction discuss the situation is the candidate himself, Jason Parce. But he’s thus far chosen silence, leading to the conclusion that he is hoping voter ignorance will secure him a primary win.  

For those on the outside looking in, our spider senses might lead us to the conclusion that Parce filed for the commissioner seat knowing the heat was on, and his employment was tenuous as a Kalispell police officer. According to the Montana Public Officer Standards and Training Bureau (POST) – the proverbial “cop police” – Mr. Parce was terminated and POST is investigating an allegation lodged against Parce. This leads to a possible conclusion that Parce is keeping tight-lipped about his departure because the hearing on his POST certification falls after the absentee ballots are issued, which means the hearing will occur after 80% of the vote has already happened. If the facts are damning, the voting public would be unaware of the same when we vote. And in the off chance he can ride the coattails of “cop credibility” until after the vote, maybe he will have secured a government job without any of us being the wiser. 

Good cops with character and integrity tell the truth – the whole truth –  and let the chips fall where they may. Parce’s silence speaks volumes, especially since he is the only person unrestricted in explaining his employment situation. The last thing we need in the commissioner seat is a former rogue cop. By choosing silence over disclosure, if Parce has any respect for the office he seeks he should do the honorable thing and drop out of the race.

Tammi Fisher is an attorney, former mayor of Kalispell and host of the Montana Values Podcast.

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