While he has never been one to seek the limelight, Helena Police Chief Troy McGee has been watching over our city and its residents for more than four decades.

After starting with the Helena Police Department as a patrolman in 1975, he worked his way up to sergeant and captain and was promoted to chief in 1996. Those who have worked with him say they will miss his steady hand after he retires at the end of March.

When McGee was named chief in 1996, city officials were praising him for his good ideas and rapport with other officers.

“Troy is real open and up front with people,” then-Human Resource Director Harry “Salty” Payne said at the time. “He gathers information from a lot of different sources, then he makes the decision. I think that’s real good – he talks to a lot of people, but he makes the final decision.”

Helena leaders haven’t stopped singing his praises since then.

“He’s a good, good, decent person who dedicated his life to our city, and this city owes him a debt of gratitude,” Mayor Wilmot Collins said earlier this month.

McGee has guided the police department through many changes over the years, including some major advances in policing technology and the agency’s recent move to the new Law and Justice Center on Fuller Avenue.

McGee has helped build strong partnerships between the police department and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office. As a result, the two agencies now have a joint SWAT team and civil disobedience team and frequently work together to investigate major crimes.

According to former Mayor Jim Smith, McGee has made a strong push to recruit and hire female officers. Currently, 10 of the police department’s 56 officers are women.

McGee was also one of the driving forces behind an effort to train local officers how to respond to the rising number of calls involving those suffering from a mental health crisis.

And judging by the way McGee and his officers interact with the community, professionalism is one of his top priorities.

Thanks, Chief McGee, for all you have done for Helena. Your successor has big shoes to fill.

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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