Newton selected as next GFPD chief

Capt. Jeff Newton has been named the next chief of the Great Falls Police Department.

Newton will have been with GFPD for 22 years in May and currently supervises the Investigative Bureau, which consists of 23 sworn officers and one civilian, according to the city.

Capt. Jeff Newton, right. Photo courtesy GFPD.

City Manager Greg Doyon offered the position to Newton on April 23 and he formally accepted on April 26. GFPD employees were notified of the selection during a 9:30 a.m. staff meeting.

Doyon said in total, Newton went through seven interviews during the selection process, which also included a “tremendous amount of feedback both internally and externally. At the end of the day, Jeff was the candidate I believed was going to meet the needs of the community.”

Newton said that there are challenges facing the department.

“It’s going to be a journey and I want to continue to be a part of that,” Newton said. “It’s humbling and I’m privileged to be selected chief. I will do my best. It will be a journey and I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Among the top challenges, Newton said filling staff vacancies among sworn officers and dispatchers at the 911 center.

He’ll also be working with the crime task force to look for solutions and Newton said he’s interested in seeing their recommendations once the members are selected and they start meeting. The group will make recommendations to the commission by September.

Another focus will be continuing to build and improve communication and relationships with the community. Newtwon said their community relations and transparency is something the police department always has to be aware of and work on.

Doyon said that all candidates were qualified but Newton was the only one who had fully rotated through all three bureaus at GFPD, which include investigation, patrol and support services.

Doyon spent 12 to 14 hours with GFPD employees discussing their challenges and what they’d like to see in their next chief. From those conversations and discussions with those who know Newton, Doyon said they described the incoming chief as “professional,” “stable,” “genuine,” “analytical,” “direct,” and “personable.

Doyon said it was a tough decision but felt that “Jeff is probably the best, well rounded…and has a level of professionalism that I think is going to be important.”

Newton joined the Kalispell Police Department in 1993, then worked for the King County Sheriff’s Office in Seattle before joining GFPD in 1999 and has held many positions within the department. He has a bachelors of sociology from Montana State University and a masters in organizational leadership from the University of Great Falls. He’s a graduate of the 255th session of the FBI National Academy and is also a graduate of the FBI Intermountain Command College, according to GFPD.

Initially, there were five internal candidates for the position and Doyon narrowed it to three finalists: Capt. Rob Moccasin, Capt. Jeff Newton and Lt. Doug Otto.

The three were interviewed by Doyon, Deputy City Manager Chuck Anderson and also participated in multiple interview panels with city leadership, community members and Neighborhood Council representatives.

Moccasin had been serving as the interim chief since Dave Bowen’s April 2 retirement.