After beating out about 150 other applicants, four new officers received their badges on Monday and officially joined the Billings Police Department.
With family and friends looking on, Ryan Kramer, 25; Jeremiah Adams, 30; Christopher Hogan, 33; and Jeffrey Stovall, 31, took their oaths of office, accepted their badges and became the newest members of the state’s largest police department.
“Guard your integrity as if it is the most important possession — because it is,” Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said, as he offered some advice and welcomed the officers to the department. “You must be morally better than anyone else both on and off duty.”
After the chief was done making his remarks, the four officers stood before Billings Municipal Court Judge Sheila R. Kolar and took their oaths.
“I do solemnly swear that I will support, protect (and) defend the constitution of the United States, the constitution of the state of Montana, the charter of the City of Billings, and I will discharge my duties of my office with fidelity, so help me God,” the four men repeated in unison.
Adams, Hogan and Stovall are scheduled to start a 12-week program at the police academy Monday. After that, they will go through 14 weeks of field officer training before being assigned a shift.
Kramer, who has worked more than two years as a Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputy, has already graduated from the academy and will begin field officer training.
Adams, a native of Billings, previously worked as a detention officer at the county jail and as a probation and parole officer. He has a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.
“I’m very excited about it,” he said of his new job. “I have a strong interest in law enforcement, and I’m excited to be able to give back to the community.”
That sentiment was a common thread among the new officers.
Hogan was born in Miles City and served about 10 years active duty in the Navy. He has a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in systems engineering.
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“I’m just looking forward to the challenges and the camaraderie. … It’s a lot like the military and what I’m used to,” he said, adding that the discipline he learned in the Navy should help him in his work.
Stovall said he moved from Colorado to Billings about four years ago with his wife, a native of Billings. He has been working in the insurance business. Previously, he worked for about 4-1/2 years as a police officer in Westminster, Colo.
“This is my passion,” he said. “My dad was a police officer for 36 years.”
Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Kramer served in the Army and did a tour in Iraq. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
“It can be very difficult at times,” he said of working in law enforcement. “But in the end it’s very rewarding, getting to help people and serve the community.”
With the addition of the four officers, St. John said the police department has 141 sworn officers.
Lt. Kevin Iffland said about 150 people applied for the positions. Of those applicants, 16 were interviewed.
St. John listed common sense and communication skills as some of the qualities that make top-notch police officers.
“You’ll solve far more problems with your communication skills than with any physical force or threat of physical force or officer presence,” the chief said.
“There was a day many, many years ago where if you couldn’t get a job anywhere else, (you would) go be a police officer,” he said. “Well, that’s not the case anymore. … It’s truly a profession.”