After almost five years as the head of the Kalispell Police Department (KPD), Chief Doug Overman has announced he will retire in June following 23 years with the law enforcement agency.
Growing up in Seeley Lake, Overman graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in sociology and criminology, which he planned to use toward a career in law enforcement. During the summers, he worked as a wildland firefighter, fueling his passion for first response.
“I knew I wanted to do something in first response with my career,” Overman said. “It was really hard to get hired in law enforcement back then and I didn’t have much experience.”
Overman, who is now 51, worked as a correctional officer at the Missoula County Detention Facility for three years before becoming a probation and parole officer in Kalispell in 1998 where he worked with former KPD Chief Frank Garner, who encouraged him to apply.
Before Overman was hired on with the KPD in 2000, he applied for a police officer position at the Missoula Police Department while he was working in corrections where he remembers 200 applicants that showed up to test.
“It’s really tapered off since then,” Overman said.
Overman says in addition to staffing shortages that have disrupted nearly every industry, the public sentiment toward law enforcement in recent years has not attracted younger generations to the field on a nationwide scale.
Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell applauded Overman for working in difficult circumstances over the past five years when nationwide protests erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“I think Doug has done an incredible job dealing with the circumstances over the last five years with a pandemic, nationwide protests and a unique change in the dynamic on the nationwide narrative of policing,” Russell said.
In Overman’s time on KPD, he has worked in a variety of roles, ranging from patrolman to detective to crisis negotiator and he’s served on boards like the Governor’s Board of Crime Control and the Center for Restorative Youth Justice. In the past two decades, he’s received multiple awards, including the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police Administrator of the Year award in 2021.
While Overman has been on numerous “exciting” calls throughout his career, he says those are not the moments that stand out the most during his time on KPD.
“The things I like to talk about are the constant acts of kindness that never get reported,” Overman said. “The only thing that makes real press is enforcement and charging documents. That’s only a portion of our career, and I can think of a lot of times where my officers do amazing acts, and it reminds me of why I got into law enforcement in the first place.”
When Overman retires at the end of June, he’s looking forward to having his first summer off since before college. He’ll search for another career eventually, but he says it won’t involve law enforcement.
“I was told that you just know when it’s your time to move on,” Overman said. “Law enforcement is an emotionally driven job that you come to every day. I started seeing my peers around me retiring and moving on. I see a young group of energetic, caring young people that are moving up and part of leadership is knowing when it’s your turn to move on and do something different.”
“It’s been a great career for me, and I hope young people continue to explore it,” Overman added. “I’m really proud of our department and our relationship with the community.”
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