Mike Brady is headed to the top rung on the Missoula Police Department ladder.
On Friday, Mayor John Engen announced Brady’s appointment as chief of police. Pending confirmation by the Missoula City Council, Brady will take the post when Chief Mark Muir retires on Dec. 20.
“Mike Brady has earned my respect and confidence as assistant chief, and I know he’ll serve as chief with distinction,” Engen said in a statement. “He’s experienced, practical and enthusiastic about our staff and our future.”
Brady, 52, has worked for the department since 1988 when he was hired as a patrol officer. He took over the reins of daily operations in August when Muir turned his full attention to implementing changes that came out of a federal investigation into gender discrimination in the department and its handling of sexual assault cases.
As chief, Brady will oversee the city’s largest department, with a $13.6 million budget, force of 102 officers and 23 staff. The social work graduate of the University of Montana will earn an estimated $98,000.
“I believe I can continue to move the department forward and support the role that every aspect of the department has in providing service to all citizens,” Brady said in a statement.
In an interview, the incoming chief said he doesn’t anticipate making wholesale changes when he steps into the post. Rather, Brady said he foresees following the course set by outgoing Chief Muir, under whom he worked as second-in-command since 2008.
“It hasn’t come without challenges, but I don’t see any great, great changes for personnel or for our delivery of services,” Brady said. “Customer service is very high on my priorities, and I want to continue those efforts to provide the best service possible to all victims.”
A couple of changes are in the works, however. In January, the department plans to bring on two new community service officers who will address matters that don’t rise to the level of criminal activity but affect people’s quality of life.
Officers will work in parks and on trails to “educate people about the ordinances and things that affect the use of those facilities,” Brady said. They will address matters such as leash laws and park hours of operations, as well as assist other officers and investigators.
“It’s a presence. It’s another set of eyes working those trail systems,” Brady said.
Brady also said he plans to launch a media relations position to address the way technology is changing news delivery. Media demands are different than they used to be, so demands on police are different, too, he said.
“We need a dedicated person to ensure that we’re being timely and accurate in getting the best information for you to pass on,” Brady said.
In May, police signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to implement changes in response to an investigation of gender bias in the department. The department denied the allegations but agreed to cooperate with the federal inquiry.
In August, Muir turned his full attention to putting in place the requirements in the report. When he retires, Detective Capt. Mike Colyer will take over those responsibilities, including the coordination of an external review panel and required community audits.
“I’m aware of what’s going on, but Capt. Mike Colyer has been working side by side with Chief Muir in that whole process,” Brady said.
The YWCA Missoula is among the agencies the DOJ interviewed as part of its review. YWCA executive director Cindy Weese said her staff members look forward to working with Brady to ensure victims of domestic and sexual violence have access to “concerned and professional law enforcement officers.”
“My kind of past work with Assistant Chief Brady leads me to believe that he is as committed as his predecessor, Mark Muir, to implementing the changes outlined in that DOJ agreement,” Weese said. “And those of us here at the YWCA, we believe those changes will have a lasting, positive impact in our community and the victims of violence that we serve.”
Among other things, the agreement stipulates officers complete training on national best practices to sexual assault response, improve relationships with community partners, including those who provide services to sexual assault victims, and create an external review panel to examine cases. The first quarterly report noted the department had made strides in addressing the requirements.
Councilman Jon Wilkins, who serves as chairman of the council’s Public Safety and Health Committee, doesn’t envision many changes when Brady takes the helm. He said Brady has been good to work with so far and has kept an open door policy.
“I kind of come in unexpected once in a while … and he’s generally always there and generally sees me right away,” Wilkins said. “He’s generally really responsive to all that, so I feel good about it.”
Brady came to law enforcement by way of internships with Missoula Youth Court and the Cascade County Youth Court Services, according to the city. He graduated from UM in 1983, began working as a sheriff’s deputy in Mineral County two weeks later, and he has enjoyed his career in law enforcement.
“It’s challenging and rewarding, all at the same time,” Brady said in a statement. “Every assignment brings new opportunity and challenge.”
And the assistant chief is up for the challenge of running the department, according to Chief Muir. In a statement, Muir said Brady has helped him guide the force through many challenges the last five years.
“The Missoula community is very fortunate to have the proven leadership of Mike Brady and the others who’ve served in command positions as they take the Missoula Police Department to the next level of service and professionalism following my retirement,” Muir said.