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Recruitment: Job Description

(Revised for DOJ use, 12-21-09)

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SECTION I – Identification Position number(s):
Working Title
Highway Patrol Trooper
Job Code
Job Title
Highway Patrol Trooper
Approval block for DOJ HR use only –
Department and Agency Code
Department of Justice-411
Division and Bureau
Highway Patrol/Field Forces
Section and UnitWork Address and Phone
2550 Prospect Avenue
Helena, MT 59620
Job Description Produced By Work Phone


Work Unit Mission Statement or Functional Description – The Highway Patrol Division is the traffic law enforcement division of the Department of Justice and is responsible for the enforcement of motor vehicle and highway safety laws according to state and federal statutes, as well as for the investigation of traffic crashes.  This activity is accomplished by the patrolling of assigned highways to ensure that traffic is moving safely and crashes are prevented.

The Highway Patrol Division is comprised of two bureaus: (1) Field Forces Bureau (uniformed troopers and civilian administrative support in the eight districts); (2) Operations Bureau (uniformed troopers, communication system operators, radio technicians, and bureau civilian support staff), executive protection detail, roving squad unit, and the respective sections:  professional standards, supply, recruiting, personnel, aviation, training, records management, and information technology).  The Highway Patrol Division has a staff that exceeds 270 FTE and an annual budget of $19(+) million.

Describe the Job’s Overall Purpose (Position Overview) – Safeguards the public on the highways and roads of Montana.  Assists the driving public by enforcing state and federal laws.  Makes arrests, administers sobriety test, inspects vehicles, investigates vehicle crashes, and citizen complaints, provides emergency care, completes reports and maintains division equipment assigned to them.  Testifies in court and provides education to the public on law enforcement subjects.

PLEASE NOTE:  The below is copied from the Highway Patrol benchmark (with some additional information).  These positions are the benchmark, and would not differ significantly.


I. Patrol duties (65 percent)

Patrols and observes traffic flow and conditions on highways and roads within assigned area and enforces all state and federal laws using knowledge of patrolling and police observation techniques; law enforcement procedures, methods and techniques; state and federal criminal laws; traffic safety laws; livestock transportation laws and other commercial transportation laws.

  • Identifies highway and roadway conditions, debris, or missing or damaged traffic controls and either reports the problem to the appropriate authority or rectifies the situation.
  • Identifies highway users who need assistance and provides assistance such as transferring fuels, performing minor repairs, providing directions, providing rides and issuing Salvation
  • Army credit vouchers for services.
  • Patrols assigned areas and identifies violations committed by drivers and pedestrians using knowledge of criminal and traffic codes including all state and federal motor vehicle statutes,
    livestock transportation statutes, vehicle size and weight statutes, special fuels statutes, commercial vehicle and driver statutes, dangerous drug and criminal statutes, Public Service
  • Commission statutes, coniferous tree transportation statutes, fish and game statutes and state and federal forest statutes.
  • Determines enforcement action to be taken which includes stopping vehicles based on probable cause and particularized suspicion; pursuing vehicle if driver fails to stop; determining when to cease pursuit taking into consideration risk to public, division mission and individual skill; requesting information from stopped driver; listening to driver and determining if immediate action must be taken; and advising driver of violation and enforcement action to be taken.
  • Takes enforcement action such as issuing verbal warning and explaining the violation; issuing a written warning; issuing a citation and either releasing the driver or requiring the driver to post an appearance bond; administering field sobriety tests; and physically taking the driver into custody by placing them under arrest, handcuffing and searching them, placing them in the patrol vehicle; and using appropriate force if driver resists, attempts to escapes or induces harm on the officer using physical weaponless defensive tactics and skill in the use of sprays, batons, firearms and handcuffs.
  • Makes arrests when warrant from the court has been issued or upon the request of a peace officer or mayor for offenses such as deliberate homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, criminal mischief, burglary, theft, kidnapping, and transportation of narcotics and notifies Communications Center that warrant has been served.
  • Completes enforcement reports such as incident reports, criminal offense reports, news releases, use of force reports, state crash reports, daily activity reports, notices to appear, warning cards and commercial vehicle inspection reports by completing the applicable forms and composing narrative descriptions.
  • Operates the patrol vehicle in an exemplary manner, serves as an example for the public.
  • Enforces all state and federal laws within their authority.

SECTION II – Major Duties or Responsibilities

II. Investigations and Inspections (20 percent)

Inspects vehicles using knowledge of National Uniform Vehicle Inspection (NUVI) regulations, state and federal laws and Department policies and procedures.

  1. Inspects commercial vehicles by testing and observing for equipment defects, reviewing manifests, observing cargo and placards, questioning driver, checking driver qualifications including medical card and endorsements, and reviewing driver’s log and receipts.
  2. Issues Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance stickers if no defects are found or takes enforcement action such as issuing a warning or citation, taking the driver into custody, placing the driver or vehicle out of service by notifying the driver of out-of-service violation and completing an inspection report, and confiscating size and weight permits if violation has occurred.
  3. Inspects vehicles abandoned on or by the highways or roads for possible theft or other violations by observing vehicle and running registration and Vehicle Identification Number through the computer system.
  4. Determines if abandoned vehicle is a hazard for other highway users or is in violation of parking or abandoned vehicle restrictions, tags vehicle with sticker, notifies Communications Center of location and description of vehicle, follows up after 48 hours to determine if vehicle has been removed by contacting the Communications Center or other officers, or calls for wrecker to remove vehicle.
  5. Inspects other vehicles for licensing and titling purposes.

Responds to and investigates vehicle crashes using knowledge of highway safety laws, Division policy and vehicle crash response procedures.

  1. Responds to notification of crash by determining appropriate speed and route of travel to scene by considering injury severity, traffic, hazardous materials, environmental concerns, weather and road conditions, distance, and availability of other officers.
  2. Protects crash scene by observing crash conditions; identifying hazardous material risks; notifying Communications Center of need for response personnel such as fire and hazardous material specialists, health department personnel or ambulance personnel; parking patrol vehicle in a position of protection; and routing traffic around crash scene using knowledge of traffic flow and control procedures, hazardous material isolation zones and environmental conditions.
  3. Provides emergency first aid care including performing triage to establish treatment priorities, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), bleeding control techniques, and shock treatment using knowledge of first aid protocol and skill in the use of first aid equipment.
  4. Protects property of victims from theft by taking possession of the property or making arrangements for its safe keeping, including arranging for vehicles to be towed to a secure location.
  5. Implements an Incident Command System if numerous types of response personnel will be involved by establishing a command post and using knowledge of county emergency response plans.
  6. Identifies drivers and witnesses involved in the crash, interviews them taking taped or written statements, and determines if the crash involves circumstances such as hit-and-run or homicide.
  7. Examines crash scene for physical evidence such as final resting position of vehicles, traffic control devices, damage to vehicles, sight obstructions, roadway conditions, and marks or materials on the roadway.
  8. Photographs the crash scene including the highway, vehicles and other evidence using knowledge of crash photography and skill using 35mm camera and equipment.
  9. Records the location of physical evidence by preparing a field sketch of the crash scene which identifies the exact location of each item using equipment such as tape measure, paints and markers.
  10. Gathers physical evidence by removing bulbs, paint scrapes, fluid samples, hair, blood and other physical evidence from the scene and places them in appropriate storage containers using knowledge of evidence preservation procedures.
  11. Inspects and tests vehicles by driving them or by testing lights, brakes, steering or suspension systems.
  12. Determines roadway surface conditions by performing tests such as test skids and drag sled tests.
  13. Reconstructs sequence and probable cause of crash by analyzing all evidence, determining the sequence and timing of events and drawing conclusions using knowledge of vehicle dynamics and crash investigation techniques.
  14. Determines if a violation has occurred, consults with the County Attorney’s office if the violation involves homicide, life-threatening injuries or major environmental damages and takes enforcement action which may include requesting an engineering study to identify problems and solutions pertaining to the roadway.
  15. Completes crash investigation reports which include summary of facts obtained during the course of the investigation, copies of witness statements and comments, summary of physical evidence and laboratory findings, field sketches, photographs, test data and conclusions reached regarding investigation using knowledge of reporting statutes, classification of motor vehicle crashes, the crash reporting form, Department policies and narrative writing skills.

Investigates vehicles stopped for traffic violations, conducts criminal investigations resulting from patrolling duties (e.g. drug interdictions, stolen vehicles) and investigates citizen complaints using knowledge of state and federal laws, investigative techniques, interviewing procedures and Department policies and procedures.

  1. Identifies stolen vehicles or contraband including drugs, stolen goods or instruments of a crime in vehicles stopped for traffic purposes, obtains consent for search from driver and searches vehicle.  If consent is refused, determines if evidence is sufficient for an arrest, arrests driver, impounds vehicle and obtains a search warrant from a judge.
  2. Gathers and preserves evidence from search and sends it to the State Forensic Lab for analysis using knowledge of evidence preservation procedures.
  3. Gathers information by conducting interviews with driver and passengers and by requesting information from other agencies such as the National Auto Theft Bureau, the Rocky Mountain Information Network, the El Paso
  4. Information Clearinghouse, the National Crime Information Center, the Montana Identification Bureau, the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
  5. Analyzes evidence and statements, meets with County Attorney to discuss evidence and charges, determines if vehicles or property should be seized and subject to forfeiture, and prepares reports for use in prosecutions.
  6. Listens to complaints from citizens, obtains additional information from resources such as the Criminal Justice Information Network, interviews involved parties, analyzes facts and statements, makes determination on the complaint which may include meeting with the County Attorney, prepares all necessary reports and notices to prosecute, and maintains contact with complainant to advise of progress of complaint and need for additional information.
III. Public Relations (10 percent)

Prepares for and provides testimony in criminal and civil court cases as expert witness, at depositions and under subpoena by assembling and reviewing all reports, documents and evidence and serving as an expert witness using knowledge of the investigation of particular cases.

Makes presentations pertaining to law enforcement using knowledge of the law enforcement mission, policies and procedures and the ability to communicate effectively.

  1. Identifies groups with an interest in safety education such as schools, senior citizens, drivers’ education classes, the media, specialized vehicle users and business and industry; solicits the opportunity to make presentations; organizes and prepares presentation using division equipment and materials; and makes presentation.
  2. Provides law enforcement training to local law enforcement agencies in such areas as radar, emergency vehicle operations, drug interaction and chemical weapons by developing training outlines or lesson plans, presenting training and documenting the training course using required forms, rosters and evaluations.
IV. Other duties (5 percent)

Performs a variety of miscellaneous duties using knowledge of division policies and procedures, report formats, equipment maintenance procedures, division standards, firearm components, court procedures, drivers’ license statutes and policies, and inspection and security procedures.

  1. Requests and receives bonds from violators and submits bonds to county courts.  Serves driver’s license pick-up orders, requests that the driver surrender their license, and determines if a notice to appear in court should also be issued.
  2. Performs emergency medical transfers of blood, serum, drugs and medical equipment by receiving call for emergency run, requesting coordination of other unit assistance from the Communications Center and picking up item from hospital and delivering to requested site.
  3. Performs biannual school bus inspections by physically inspecting buses for compliance with established safety and maintenance standards; completing bus information inspection form; determining if the bus passed inspection and indicating reason for failure; advising bus contractor or school district of problems; reinspecting buses after repairs and delivering copies of reports to school district, Office of Public Instruction and district offices.
  4. Inspects vehicles such as snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats, all-terrain vehicles, commercial vehicles and construction equipment for appropriate licensing, titling and identification and fills out inspection forms.
  5. Physically inspects current and proposed motor vehicle dealerships for compliance with statutory requirements; completes inspection form and submits to Motor Vehicle Division; and confiscates dealer plates which have been suspended.  Inspections include verification of application information, established place of business and display lot, permanent building where records are kept and service department.
  6. Maintains quarterly, annual or biennial certification in law enforcement functions by attending training and physically demonstrating proficiency; Remains current in specific law enforcement related functions by attending periodic training and physically demonstrating proficiency with issued equipment or knowledge of and ability to perform specific procedures.
  7. Directs traffic manually by identifying reason for traffic congestion; notifying Communications Center of the problem; establishing a position in the roadway where all drivers may see him/her; using standardized hand motions to direct users; determining if additional assistance such as barricades, lane identifiers or other officers is needed; and requesting additional assistance.
  8. Maintains all Division issued equipment and uniforms, including patrol vehicle; Maintains issued firearms in accordance with policy; Maintains personal appearance as required by policy; Maintains Division Regulations, Policies, and Procedures Manual

What guidelines, manuals or written established procedures are available to the incumbent?

  • Highway Patrol Division Regulations, Policies, and Procedures
  • Department of Justice Policies; Title 61 MCA, Motor Vehicle Code; laws of arrest; search and seizure; rules of evidence.
  • Other manuals and guidelines regarding crash investigation; interviewing techniques; criminal interdiction; Montana criminal justice system, court systems and courtroom testimony, personal computers and word processing software.

If this position supervises other positions, complete the following information.
The number of employees supervised is:

(Please list the Position Number(s), titles and bands for those supervised) .

Is this position responsible for:

     Hiring                    Firing               Performance Management                  Promotions

     Supervision                   Discipline                    Pay Level                Other:

Please attach an Organizational Chart (optional).
On file with Central Services

SECTION III – Mimimum Qualification Requirements for the first day of work.

KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS At hire (minimum qualifications):

Knowledge of:

  •  Principles and Practices of Law Enforcement
  • Highway Patrol Regulations, Policies and Procedures
  • Department of Justice Policies
  • Title 61 MCA, Motor Vehicle Code
  • Laws of arrest, search and seizure, rules of evidence
  • Crash Investigation
  • Interviewing Techniques
  • Criminal Interdiction
  • Montana Criminal Justice System
  • Court Systems and courtroom testimony
  • Personal computers and word processing and specific law enforcement investigation software

Full Performance:

  •  All state and federal motor vehicle statutes including snowmobiles and tow cars.
  • Livestock transportation statutes.
  • Vehicle size and weight and special fuels statutes.
  • All commercial vehicle and driver statutes.
  • Dangerous drug and other criminal statute violations occurring on the highway system.
  • Public Service Commission statutes relating to carrier authority.
  • Coniferous tree transportation statutes.
  • Fish and Game statutes.
  • State and federal forest statutes

Skill in the use of:

High performance patrol vehicle; pistol, shotgun and rifle firearms; ASP baton; chemical defensive sprays; radar; intoxilyzer; mobile radio equipment; personal computer and all other division-issued equipment.

 What behaviors are required to perform the duties?

Speaking and writing effectively; verbal and non-verbal communications:

  • Effectively describes the physical forces associated with the crash and present court testimony;
  • Control verbal and body language;
  • Demonstrates command presence, bearing;
  • Displays appropriate demeanor (professional, courteous, mission-driven, respectful).  Represents the agency in a positive way;
  • Composure; defuses escalating situations;
  • Exhibits clear, concise, and simple writing that is understandable to all, whether it is a report, letter of testimony, or a description of physical forces associated with an crash;
  • Adjusts language, delivery or terminology to meet the needs of the audience (e.g. explain statutes in lay terms to broad audience; anticipate questions;
  • Influences people (including angry individuals, drivers ed students and violators);’
  • Actively listens, probes, understands (expanded from state model)
  • Uses common sense, logic and reasoning combined with solid, accurate analysis;
  • Assesses situations in a logical and methodical way based on facts.  Recognizes patterns, connections, themes and issues.  Sees implications and consequences of a situation; identifies possible cause and effect information;
  • possesses accurate assessment skills; determines facts; asks appropriate questions and knows when to seek clarification to get necessary information; identifies critical information necessary to analyze problems; understands what information is needed and how to collect it; recognizes subtleties and nuances that are not immediately observable;
  • observes conditions, recognizes patterns; uses logic and reasoning combined with accurate analysis; understands physical forces associated with the crash.
  • Observes and perceives surroundings while focusing on resolution of a problem;
  • Demonstrates the desire to question, investigate and learn


  • Follows a code of conduct and oath of office;
  • Consistently models high standards of honesty, integrity, trust and openness; knows, understands and follows through with the correct standards of conduct and moral judgment.

Maturity and Emotional Discipline:

  • Accepts constructive criticism;
  • Maintains composure and displays restraint when faced with opposition, stress, or hostility from others;

Flexibility and Adaptability:

  • Adaptable to changes;
  • Quickly adapts decisions or tactics based on response
  • Teamwork (note: this did not make the most critical list, but is derived from the current performance tool):
  • Maintains and improves cooperation and professional relationships with others;
  • Aware of and sensitive to co-worker workload and offers assistance when necessary;
  • Understands and respects all members of the team.


  • Quick decision making;
  • Makes objective and fair decisions based on situation variables (expansion from statewide model)
  • Displays sound judgment;

Efficiency and Focus:

  • Prioritizes and manages on-going multiple tasks simultaneously

Responsibility and Independence:

  • Takes effective and appropriate action without being told;
  • Steps forward to do what is necessary for job completion;
  • Works independently when required.
  • Commitment to the law enforcement profession and to the mission of the agency;
  • Performs duties for the benefit of the people of the State of Montana; avoids taking actions that depart from public duty or violates the public trust;
  • Consistently models the values and vision of the organization;
  • Demonstrates individual effort in support of organizational mission and goals;
  • Reliable and dependable in performing job-related tasks.
Education and experience:

The minimum qualifications for this position are typically acquired by a combination of education and experience.

 Typical Education (include degree type and field, if applicable):
High school diploma or GED

Other related and/or acceptable fields of study:

Length and Type of Experience:

  • Valid Montana Drivers License
  • Post Certification of Basic Course
  • Completion and certification of MHP Recruit Academy

Other specific experience or certification requirements, if applicable:

For recruiting purposes please list examples of acceptable alternative methods of obtaining those qualifications (i.e. other combinations of education and experience).  These examples should appear on a vacancy announcement and screening tool. (Guidance: there are many ways, besides a degree, in which an applicant may achieve the necessary qualifications.  For example, a job may require a specific bachelor’s degree with a specific number of years and type of experience.  Often, an individual may not have gotten a degree, but has had college course work and many years progressively responsible and specific experience – or an associate’s degree and multiple years of experience – that provided them the equivalent of a degree).

Other combinations of education and experience than those listed above will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Other Important Job Information
  • Officers must be in compliance with provisions of the Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. Chapter 44) and accompanying regulations [27 C.F.R. Part 178.32, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8), 925 (a)(1)] to be eligible to possess and carry firearms
  • Officers work alone while performing their job duties.
  • Supervision and direction is received from the detachment commander on division policies, procedures, and directives.
  • Officers are scheduled on a rotating schedule of day and night shifts and days off and receive general direction on activities and work methods.
  • Mental and physical fatigue may be experienced from the stress of performing enforcement duties and experiencing life and death situations.
  • Officers are highly visible, work in a position of sworn public trust and are easily criticized while performing their job.
  • Officers make decisions using broad discretion involving enforcement for traffic violations and other crimes. They determine the method of enforcement including warnings, issuance of notices to appear, or physical arrest.
  • They have the authority and responsibility to take away an individuals freedom of movement.  Civil rights suits and liability to the State of Montana automatically occur with an officers arrest authority. These decisions affect the driving and criminal records of the violators involved and the safety and welfare of the general public.
  • Must have the ability to lift heavy objects and physically arrest suspects.
  • Determine and use the correct amount of force in an arrest or public safety situation; maintain a high degree of physical fitness.
  • Decisions relating to investigations for traffic crashes impact potential lawsuits for death, personal injury and property damage.
  • Decisions regarding use of deadly force may affect their own life or the life of another person and these decisions are made in fractions of seconds.
  • Officers represent the State of Montana law enforcement to all users of the highway traffic system and have the ability to affect driver behavior and ultimately highway safety.  Officer vehicle interdiction efforts and initiative directly affects the transportation and delivery of illegal drugs and contraband on Montana highways.
  • Officer commitment to provide traffic education to school children and young drivers has a potential for long-range death and injury reductions on Montana streets and highways.
  • Completion of Highway Patrol selection process possessing minimum qualifications for certification as a Highway Patrol Officer (MCA 44-1-303 (2) and 44-1-401) and Peace Officer (Sections MCA 7-32-303).
  • Completion and graduation from the Highway Patrol Recruit Academy.
  • Completion of the Highway Patrol Field Training Officer Program.


All duties are considered essential functions because they require specialized expertise and skill and are the primary reasons the job exists. The following mental and physical demands are associated with these essential functions:

Less than 15 pounds
     15-29 pounds
     30-44 pounds
     45-60 pounds
  X   More than 60 pounds
  X   Light items (papers, books, small tools)
  X   Boxes and larger items (computers, large files)
  X   Pushing or moving carts or large items
  X   Remaining seated for extended periods of time
  X   Operating a personal computer; extensive use of keyboard
  X   Extensive travel, sometimes under unfavorable conditions and circumstances

  X   Dealing with the public on a regular basis
  X   Multi-tasking
  X   Paying attention to details and accuracy
  X   Meeting inflexible deadlines with short timelines
  X   Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing figures
  X   Concentrating
  X   Communicating in writing, in person, and over the phone

  X   This job requires regular attendance as scheduled by the supervisor
  X   This job cannot be performed at an alternate work site
  X   Requires valid Montana driver’s license

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