After 13 years as Chief of Police for MSU, Robert Putzke is set to retire from the Montana State University University Police Department. Putzke began his tenure at MSU back in 2004 after serving as the assistant chief of the Stephen F. Austin University Police in Texas, following his positions of officer and Sergeant at Rice University, also in Texas. The Exponent had the privilege to sit down with Putzke to discuss his decision to retire and what lies ahead for himself as well as for the University Police.
Exponent: You are retiring from MSU after 13 years of being Police Chief. What made you decide now was the time to retire?
Putzke: A few things, actually. The economy is doing really well right now and my retirement [fund] is doing really well too. I also felt it was time to do something new and different.
E: What is next for you after you retire?
P: I’m not sure yet. I want to take some time off and look around. Do something completely different from law enforcement.
E: What are some of your favorite memories here at MSU as Chief? What will you miss the most?
P: My fondest memories are working with students and staff solving issues. I have always been very impressed with the people on this campus and their commitment to keeping the campus safe.
E: Will you miss Cat/Griz games?
P: Well us officers have a skewed view of the football games. We never really get to enjoy the games as fans do because we are working hard to keep things safe and in order. So I will definitely get to enjoy them as a fan from now on.
E: As the new Chief of Police transitions into their job, what will be their biggest challenge they will face as Chief in the coming years?
P: A year ago, we hired Frank Parrish as Assistant Chief of Police. An email just went out that announced that Frank will become Interim Chief of Police. I firmly believe that Frank will be successful in his new role.
E: What advice can you give to Frank Parrish as he begins his new role as Interim Chief?
P: It’s a difficult job but he values the job and it’s responsibilities. My advice will be to just continue to rely on the awesome staff that we have and continue to have a love for the job.
E: Do you believe that MSU is a safer campus now than it was in 04 when you came?
P: Back in 04 when I started, we were authorized 14 officers, but we had issues with recruiting and retention. However, MSU administration has been very supportive over the years and that’s reflective in the resources that we have. Our officers are up from 14 to 20, and beyond the number of officers that we have, they are quality officers that are passionate about the job. But beyond our officers, we have a wonderful community that is committed to safety. There are a lot of issues in today’s society in regards to safety, especially with the threat of active shooters. So our community does so much to help us keep the campus safe.
Putzke is set to retire effective March 31, and Assistant Chief Frank Parrish Jr will take over duties immediately.