West Yellowstone police chief fired


BOZEMAN, Mont. - The West Yellowstone Town Council fired Police Chief Gordon Berger following the release of a report from a state investigation into Berger.

The investigation alleges Berger selectively enforced the law, violated court orders and, in some cases, either did not know or chose not to follow the law.

The Gallatin County Sheriff began looking into the department last fall after the National Park Service suspended a mutual aid agreement with West Yellowstone Police. The National Park Service citied a lack of training and safety concerns.

West Yellowstone council members on Monday confirmed a recommendation to end Berger's employment immediately. The town now only has two active police officers.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin tells NBC Montana the sheriff's deputies have been covering shifts for the past three weeks, and will continue to cover shifts until they hire a new chief.

Gootkin said West Yellowstone will have to pay for the Sheriff's Office's overtime hours.

The West Yellowstone Town Council explained their top priority is hiring a new chief, but the hiring and training process could take up to three or four months.

"Whether you agree or disagreed with the decision that was made, we now have to move forward and get some folks hired," explained Town Council Member Jerry Johnson. "Perhaps the most important position we need to fill is the chief position, so they can be involved in the hiring process of their own people. I just think we need to move forward from here and get our Police Department back in order."

Berger had been West Yellowstone's Police Chief since 2006 and had been with the department for 28 years.

NBC Montana also spoke with Berger's attorney, who explained they are reviewing the town council's decision and pursuing remedies available for the chief.

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