Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Columbia Falls Police Chief announces retirement

Editor | April 3, 2024 2:00 AM

Columbia Falls Police Chief Clint Peters has announced his retirement effective Aug. 1.

Peters was named police chief by the city in November, 2016.

Prior to coming to Columbia Falls, Peters worked for the Whitefish Police Department for 12 years and is a graduate of Whitefish High School, though he’s lived in Columbia Falls for decades.

Over his tenure, Peters has modernized the police force and instilled a much better and professional relationship with the community. In addition to police duties, he did a lot of the research for the city’s resort tax and has sat on the board of directors for the Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce.

In 2017, he helped steer the Columbia Falls School District through a cyberterrorism attack, where foreign hackers, known as TheDarkOverlord Solutions were able to break into school servers and steal personal information from both current and prior staff as well as about 700 students.

They first sent threatening text messages to school administrators, some teachers, parents and local police. Schools across the Flathead Valley shut down for several days as a result.

The hackers then tried to hold the school ransom, demanding it pay more than $100,000 or it would release the information.

But the school never paid a nickel and the hackers gave up. Peters was later recognized for his efforts by the chamber of commerce.

Peters studied business administration at the North Dakota State College of Science and fire science at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado. His original plan was to become a firefighter, he said in 2016. But he was working as a 911 dispatcher in Whitefish when a part-time police officer position became available. He was encouraged to apply by Whitefish assistant police chief Mike Ferda and became a full-time officer with the force in 2004.

Earlier this month, Peters was thanked for his community service by Councilman John Piper, who works as a supervisor at the Montana Veterans Home.

Piper thanked Peters for the way the department handled a resident that had left the home and had an alcohol issue. Police were able to get the resident back to the home without incident.

Peters told council Monday that his tenure at Columbia Falls was a “challenge, but the most fun I’ve ever had.”

He said he wasn’t retiring for any negative reasons, but to pursue other avenues in life after 20 years in law enforcement.

Mayor Don Barnhart thanked Peters for his service and dedication noting Peters did the “heavy lifting” to improve the department over the years.

For the first time ever, it will have 10 men on patrol in the next few weeks.