The Bozeman Police Protective Association has released a statement in response to recent comments made by Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin concerning the  proposed Bozeman Public Safety Center. Sheriff Gootkin spent some time Thursday morning on The XL Country Morning Show with Dave & Ally, talking about the city's plan to leave out the Sheriff's Department on a new safety center that would replace the current Law & Justice Center.

The proposed safety center, which is on the November ballot, is being described by supporters as a 4-in-1 solution in order to help first responders serve Bozeman as the city's population is projected to double over the next 20 years. The center would house the police department, fire department, municipal courts and victim services.

Gootkin recently expressed to local media that he didn't think the safety center would necessarily make Bozeman safer and took to social media to post the following message:

As the Chief Law Enforcement Executive of the County, your safety (including the city of Bozeman) is my main responsibility. Two years ago the elected leaders of the city and county, along with the Bozeman Police Chief, told you that if your Sheriff’s Office and Police Department separated it would negatively affect your safety (which it will). Now the city is telling you in order to “Keep Bozeman Safe” you must vote to physically separate our agencies and replace the Sheriff’s Office with the Bozeman Fire Department? I cannot in clear conscience sit back and allow this “marketing” and “messaging” to go on without giving you my professional opinion. Simply put, separating police officers, deputy sheriffs, detectives, and command staff, and replacing us with firefighters who have very different duties and responsibilities does not make you safer, it actually does the opposite! If the project passes I will do everything possible to mitigate the damage, however if it fails I will take a lead role in getting both sides to the table and do the right thing. You deserve that!

Sincerely,

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian M. Gootkin

Gootkin has been criticized by some Bozeman leaders for his comments, which came shortly before ballots were mailed out to voters. City Commissioner Jeff Krauss called Gootkin's comments a "sleazy political move."

On Thursday, the Bozeman Police Protective Association issued a statement, offering a response to Sheriff Gootkin's stance on the safety center issue.

In the statement, the BPPA says that it firmly disagrees with the sheriff's words and that the group is "disappointed" that Gootkin would go public with his stance so close to the November election, especially after the safety center has been an "ongoing and public process for over a year."

The BPPA indicates that the views expressed in this statement do not come from the direction of any level of Bozeman city government.

Sheriff Gootkin told Dave & Ally this morning that he is ok with whatever the voters decide on the City's bond. He also emphasized that the residents of Gallatin County are safe right now, and will "continue to be safe" whether the bond passes or is voted down.