Recruitment: Duties of a Patrol Trooper

Mission: To safeguard the lives and property of the people using the highway traffic system of Montana through education, service, enforcement and interagency cooperation.

Montana Highway Patrol troopers never know what might be in store when their shifts start. They may have to determine what caused a crash and console upset victims. They may apprehend a dangerous criminal, help someone change a flat tire or speak to a group of students about the importance of wearing seatbelts.

In the course of a typical day, troopers are called upon to do many things, all of which contribute to a safer society and help prevent loss of life, personal injury and property destruction. They may:

  • patrol Montana’s highways to enforce federal, state and local traffic laws
  • respond to and investigate crashes, crimes, natural disasters and potential safety hazards on and off Montana’s roads
  • apprehend criminals, including those who transport drugs
  • provide humanitarian aid to citizens
  • give presentations related to traffic and safety, and build positive relations within their community
  • appear in court to assist in prosecuting offenders
  • inspect school buses to ensure that they comply with state and federal laws relating to passenger safety
  • perform emergency transportation of blood, drugs or other medical supplies
  • transport prisoners
  • participate in training (such as CPR, driving and routine firearms training) to maintain skills and proficiency

Specialty Fields

Through additional professional training, Highway Patrol troopers have many opportunities to specialize in a number of fields and to advance, including:

Criminal Interdiction – MHP is committed to reduce the amount of criminal activity on all Montana highways and roads by: Apprehending fugitives, recovering stolen vehicles, confiscating illegal drugs and weapons, cooperating with all enforcement task forces, and sharing intelligence with partner law enforcement agencies at the national, state, and local levels.

Breath Testing to Detect Alcohol Instruction – Teach troopers how to detect and apprehend people who are driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, including the use of portable breath-testing instruments and how to administer sobriety tests.

Crash Teams – Each of the eight districts within the Montana Highway Patrol has a Fatal Injury Reconstruction Support Team (FIRST) that responds to the scenes of all fatal crashes and some serious injury crashes. The Patrol is responsible for recording the evidence at crash scenes so that violators of the criminal and traffic codes can be prosecuted and victims can recover damages through civil cases.

The members of each district’s crash team are crash investigation specialists with proven expertise in:

  • collision damage interpretation
  • photography, interview and interrogation
  • mapping crash scenes with sophisticated measuring and mapping hardware and software

Executive Protection – Troopers assigned to the Executive Protection Detail provide personal protection to the Governor. Specially trained troopers conduct advance investigations and must be aware of potential security threats and intelligence updates. Detail members are available to the Governor at all times and work under a wide range of conditions. The detail is a member of the National Governors’ Security Association, which shares information with all state and federal protective details.

Field Training – Troopers who exhibit expertise in their duties may apply to become Field Training Officers (FTOs). FTOs are assigned a newly sworn trooper, whom they guide, train and evaluate throughout the eight-week field-training program.

Firearms Instruction – Instruct recruits at the Patrol’s Advanced Traffic Enforcement Course and conduct quarterly firearms testing to ensure that troopers are proficient in the handling and operation of their issued firearms. Firearms instructors also conduct annual written testing on the legal issues surrounding the use of deadly force.

Hazardous Material Instruction – Teach annual courses in detecting and containing chemical and other hazardous spills, and in maintaining public safety in these situations.

Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA) Instruction – Troopers may become instructors of several different courses offered as part of MLEA’s Law Enforcement Officer Basic Course. Topics include radar, traffic stops, defensive tactics, motor vehicle laws and other scenario-based training assignments.

Police Vehicle Driving Instruction – Instruct recruits at the Patrol’s Advanced Traffic Enforcement Course and conduct semi-annual trooper driving tests in the safe operation of Patrol vehicles at high speeds and under stressful conditions.

Safety Education – Troopers make presentations about seatbelts, DUI and other important driving safety issues to a variety of groups, including driver education classes.

Special Events Support Unit – The Special Events Support Unit consists of 20 specially trained troopers and six supervisors. At the request of other law enforcement agencies throughout Montana and the nation, the unit provides assistance in situations in which the safety or health of the public is at risk, including disasters, civil disturbances, riots and demonstrations. The unit does not assist in labor disputes.

Weapons Maintenance – Become a designated armorer for a district and maintain records of each trooper’s firearms to ensure compliance with Patrol policies.

Volunteer Specialties

Football – Troopers serve as honorary escorts at home and away football games for University of Montana head coach. Troopers are selected based on appearance, demeanor, job performance and communication ability. The program enhances public relations and provides training for the executive protection program, and troopers enjoy the unique experience of being a part of Griz football.

Honor Guard – Formed in 1994, the Montana Highway Patrol Honor Guard is a small group of highly motivated professionals skilled in drill and ceremony. Troopers apply to become members of the 16-trooper Honor Guard, which lends dignity to all types of official ceremonies including:

  • gun salutes at funerals and memorials
  • flag ceremonies and parades
  • out-of-state funerals of slain police officers

The Honor Guard’s distinctive uniforms are modeled after the first Montana Highway Patrol officers’ apparel. The circular patch on the right breast pocket is the original MHP patch, featuring a spoked wheel and a bison skull.