Optimist, Hand-in-Hand, working toward respect for law in our community

Annually, local Optimist Clubs come together to recognize the following local law enforcement offices:

  • City of Billings Police Department
  • Highway Patrol
  • Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
  • Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office

2017 Officers recognized
Speaker: Yellowstone County Commissioner, Dennis Pitman

Officer Matt Edwards – Billings Police Department
Officer Edwards is active in coaching in the Yellowstone Youth Football League. This is no small task as they have 3 to 4 practices a week in addition to games. He enjoys not only the time spent teaching kids how to play football, but also impressing upon them the lessons that sports teaches them that they will help develop the life skills for later on. He is also involved in different capacities at his children’s schools. He agreed to read during the read-a-thon to the children to help with fund raising activities for the school PTA. Officer Edwards & his family are involved with the angel tree program. He also takes the time to chat with children while on duty.

School Resource Officer Mitch Hillier – Billings Police Department
Officer Hillier has been a school resource officer at Billings Senior High for the past 3 years.  He enjoys the interactions between the youth & staff. He is a positive male role model for the kids at Senior High and the community. The past 3 years as the SRO, Officer Hillier’s focus has been to ensure that the students have a safe learning environment while working toward graduation. This can be seen through Officer Hillier’s tireless work in which he has seen over 500 kids per school year. On any given day Officer Hillier can be seen giving a wellness check for a student at home, helping a student to feel safe due to parental disagreements or due to recent changes that have occurred.

Sgt. Robert Lester – Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office
Sgt. Lester is a 9 year Deputy of Yellowstone Co. Sheriff’s Office. He has been a sergeant for 5 years. He worked as as National Park LE Ranger in Yellowstone National Park for 2 years before joining the Sheriff’s Office. He has taught Drug & Alcohol Classes for Junior High & High School for both Billings and Laurel Schools. He has a love for teaching others & mentoring youth. He makes himself available to teach, counseling, or just lend a hand to those in need. He is a Boy Scout leader for Troop 421, and is the “incoming Cub Master” for Laurel. He volunteers at West Elementary School in the library on his days off. He is a devoted husband & father to 4 children & can always be found taking them hiking, camping or on some type of educational adventure.

Game Warden Brad Balis – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Game Warden Brad Balis began his career as a Warden Trainee in Missoula in 2012. He was stationed in Hardin and then transferred into the Billings combined. In the Hardin District Brad was engaged with the community & schools. He presented at Career Day for Hardin High School, as well as assisting with the Hunter Education programs. Upon moving to the Billings area, Brad took the opportunity to become even more involved in educational work. Brad participates in the Hunter Education Programs in the Billings area. He participates during many “field days” so that the young hunters can experience a field check from a Game Warden in the controlled setting. He helps at Aquatic Education Field Days, when he educates kids on water safety & fishing.

Past Year Programs

2016 Officers recognized
Speaker: Downtown Resource Officers, Matt Lennick and Tony Nichols
Officer Glenn Gunther – Police
Warden Matt Ladd – FWP
Deputy Matt Poe – Sheriff
Sergeant Tony Beehler – Hwy Patrol

2015 Officers recognized
Speaker: Judge Rod Souza, District Court

Police: Officer Jerry Smidt and Office Chris Simpson
Both officers are involved with youth in the community.  In the scope of their job of being School Resource Officers at West and Skyview, they have a large population to keep track of.  This includes both students and teachers alike.  Each officer makes an effort to know each member of the student body as well as the staff in order to foster an environment that allows anyone to feel comfortable coming to them to talk about their personal lives, goals, and any problems they may be having at school or home.  Officer Smidt is a National School Resource Officer Instructor, a hostage negotiator, and works alcohol compliance details to curb selling alcohol to minors.  He is very active in church counseling children and has been a soccer coach as well.  Officer Simpson is also very active in working alcohol compliance.  He is a firearms instructor and in his free time teaches children about archery, skeet and gun safety.

FWP: Game Warden Courtney Tyree
Game Warden Tyree started his career with FWP in September 2007 as the Region Five Warden.  Throughout Courtney’s time as a game warden he has worked with the youth of Yellowstone County in protecting Montana’s resources and preparing the next generation of conservationists.  He makes time in his work schedule to do numerous school presentations, assists with wildlife issues in town and at the Laurel school.  Courtney’s skills for communicating and relating to youth have assisted in addressing various urban resource violations over the years.  Courtney and his wife, Wendy organize the half marathon segment of the “Run for Heaven’s Sake” race series.  The effort raises funds to pay for funeral costs for babies under one year of age.

Highway Patrol: Trooper Eric Winburn
Trooper Winburn has been an instructor for the Alive at 25 courses for the past four years.  His dedication to this program has helped motivate young inexperienced drivers to develop safe driving habits.  Trooper Windurn’s contribution to this program has provided the youth he instructs with lifelong safe driving behavior.  It is unkown to quantify the impact that Trooper Winburn has had on our youth by virtue of being involved in this program, it has however undoubtedly saved lives.

Sheriff: Detective Frank Fritz
Detective Fritz’s involvement in the Young Marines program is a great example of his concern for youth and community.  While many parents are involved in their children’s activities, and that should be commended, Detective Fritz does not have any of his own children in the program.  He donates countless hours and who knows how many dollars toward the program.  The program and Detective Fritz’s leadership is a true asset to our community.  Detective Fritz is a former, or rather ex-Marine himself.  There is no such thing as a former Marine – Once a Marine, always a Marine!

2014 Officers recognized
Speaker: Tim Fox, MT Attorney General
Officer Matthew Lennick – Police
Game Warden Lee Burroughs – FWP
Dep Jim Ellis – Sheriff
Sgt Buck O’Neill – Hwy Patrol

2013 Officers recognized
Speaker: Mayor Tom Hanel

Officer Tom Keightley – Billings Police Department
Officer Keightley has served in the Billings Police Dept. for 7 years.  In 2012, Officer Keightley was assigned as the Crime Prevention Officer at the Crime Prevention Center.  During 2012, Office Keightley began the process of trying to revitalize the Adopt-A-Cop program.  He has recruited 14 individual officers to join the program.  He is trying to double the size of the program in the future.  Office Keightley’s efforts in revitalizing the Adopt-A-Cop program will have a lasting and positive influence on the youth in the Billings Community for many years to come.

Detective Kevin Cunningham – Yellowstone Co. Sheriff’s Office
Det. Cunningham has been assigned to work with crimes against children for the past several years and is an advocate for the victims of both physical and sexual abuse.  His passion for working for child-victims in some gruesome and heinous crimes is to be commended.  He previously worked as a Narcotics Officer and often takes time out of his busy schedule to speak with children about the negative effect of drugs to area schools.  He was instrumental in the planning and development of the recently opened Child Advocacy Center in Yellowstone County.

Trooper Dell Aman – Montana Highway Patrol
Trooper Aman is a member of the Shriners organization and dedicates much of his off duty time volunteering at Shrine functions that raise money for the 22 Shriners hospitals across the country.  He volunteers countless hours and even takes vacation from work to volunteer for events.  Dell works the Shrine Circus and helps with the East-West Shrine game.  He participates in parades and is lucky enough to sport around in little cars and hand out candy to children.  He works at the Shrine auditorium for events to help raise more money for the worthy cause to help children.

Game Warden Kevin Holland – MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Game Warden Holland started his career in Miles City, with stops in Broadus and Helena and has been in Billings since 1998.  Kevin has had the opportunity to be heavily involved in educational work, as well as the traditional duties of being a Warden.  He has taken the leadership roll in the region with the Hunter Education Program.  He participates during most field days so young hunters can experience a field check from a game warden.  He also helps during C.A.S.T (Create a Special Thrill) fishing event.  Without his help the program would not have been able to give the children wonderful memories.  Kevin takes on a leadership roll within MT FWP as a Field Training Officer and has developed the outstanding reputation for training new wardens, to the extent he is one of the most utilized trainers in the state.

2012 Officers recognized
Speaker: Scott Twito, County Attorney

Officer Earl Campbell – Billings Policy Department
Officer Cambell joined the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force in 2010.  The focus of the ICAC is to educate the public at large with a very heavy emphasis on “hardening” the target of these crimes, young men & women.  The task force also investigates & prosecutes those who use the Internet to exploit the youth of Montana.  He has attended numerous training sessions preparing him for the duties of his new position.  In 2011 alone Earl has conducted over 60 proactive Internet investigations and has responded to 34 reactive reports of Internet exploitation.  He has also provided public presentations to over 1000 attendees, most of which are school-aged children.  Like the war on drugs, law enforcement will not be in a position to “arrest” our way out of the Internet exploitation issue.  Education of the target(s) of these crimes has proven to be just as effective as enforcement.  Earl has excelled in this area bringing to his presentations a very personal approach.

Deputy Ryan Taylor – Yellowstone Co. Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Taylor is currently the School Resource Officer for Broadview, Canyon Creek and Elder Grove.  He is in his third year as a School Resource Officer.  He began his career in 2005.  During his tenure with the Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Taylor has been recognized for his work with Special Olympics.  He has also worked closely with Camp Postcard (Peace Officers Striving To Create and Reinforce Dreams) for the past three years.  His contribution to the youths of Yellowstone County will no doubt benefit our community for years to come.

Officer Anton Beehler – Montana Highway Patrol
Trooper Beehler has been a sworn Highway Patrol Trooper since July 2002.  He is very committed to youth and helping them become responsible, productive citizens.  He wanted to come up with a way to spend time with children while in uniform, after seeing first hand how children often react negatively to a uniformed officer.  Trooper Beehler wants our youth to trust police officers and regard them as friends and helpers, rather than a villain who is there to arrest them.  Trooper Beehler is “McGruff the Crime Dog.”  He is heavily involved in Special Olympics and spends countless hours organizing and soliciting volunteers for this good cause.  He also volunteers his personal time and his on duty time to handing out awards, coaching, raising money and making sure the athletes for the Special Olympics are appreciated and rewarded for their efforts.

2011 Officers recognized
Speaker: Mark Long, Chief of Narcotics
Officer Jerry Schmidt – Police
Dep Kareene Butler – Sheriff
Sgt James “JV” Moody – Hwy Patrol

2010 Officers recognized
Speaker: Mary Jane McCalla Knisely
School Resource Officer George Zorzakis
Trooper Brenda Timm
Dep Troy Charbonneau

2009 Officers recognized
Speaker: Judge Russell Fagg
Officer Mike Protain – Police
Res. Deputy Dave Kanat – Sheriff
Trooper Adam Olivas – Hwy Patrol

2008 Officers recognized
Speaker: Dan Vierthala FBI
Officer Joe Watson – Police
Trooper Anton Beehler – Hwy Patrol

2007 Officers recognized
Speaker: Lt Gov John Bohlinger
Det Frank Fritz Sheriff
Trooper Jason Grover Hwy Patrol

2006 Officers recognized
Speaker: Mayor Ron Tussing
Officer Tim Hawkins – Police

2005 Officers recognized
Speaker: Dwight McKay US Marshall
Officer Dave Punt – Police

2004 Officers recognized
Speaker: Dan Vierthala FBI
Officer Mark Lam – Police
Robbie Carpenter – Safe Kids

2003 Officers recognized
Speaker: Harold Hanser Retired Co Attorney
Det. Blake Richardson – Police
Dianne Stanley – Traffic Safety

2002 Officers recognized
Speaker: Dwight McKay US Marshall
Tony Barone – Police

2001 Officers recognized
Speaker: Bert Obert – Hwy Patrol
Ken Dove – Police

2000 Officers recognized
Speaker: Mike McGrath
Harold Hanser – County Attorney

1999 Officers recognized
Speaker: Jim Seykora-US Attorney
Chuck Maxwell – Sheriff

1998 Officers recognized
Speaker: Josepha Mazrek – State Attorney General
Mitch Tuttle – Hwy Patrol
Scott Largent – Hwy Patrol

1997 Officers recognized
Speaker: Sherry Scheel Matteucci-US Attorney
Jeff McLaughlin Hwy Patrol
Charles Moore – Police
Mike Schieno – Sheriff
David Morales – School Attendance Officer

1996 Officers recognized
Speaker: Gov. Mark Raciot
Sgt Ross Adams – Police
Dep Diane Bell – Sheriff
Mitch Connors – Laurel Police
Lynn Halvorson – Hwy Patrol

1995 Officers recognized
Speaker: Mike Batista – MT Dept of Justice
Joy Mariska – Foster Care
Jan Healy – Violence Task Force
Lt Verne Peterman – Police
Mary Ann Roberts – Domestic Violence
Rickard Ross – Sheriff
Dan Vega – Police

1994 Officers recognized
Speaker: Craig Reep – Hwy Patrol
Sgt Tim O’Connell – Police
Dep Mike Lindel – Sheriff
Wade Nadison – Fire Dept
Wayne Townsend – Fire Dept