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Dan Springer is Gallatin County’s new sheriff.

Gallatin County Commissioners voted Tuesday to appoint Springer as the new sheriff and hailed the sole candidate as the right person for the job. Commissioners said they received only positive comments during a public interview last week with Springer.

Springer, the only person who applied for the job, has worked with the sheriff’s office since 1996. He was undersheriff until being named interim sheriff after Brian Gootkin retired at the end of last year.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Springer made a promise to county residents that the sheriff’s office will continue to provide “the exceptional service that they have come to expect from us.”

“I recognize there will be challenges but I know that the relationship I’ve built, and that this office has built with you folks, will allow us the opportunity to get through those challenges and continue to be the leader in the law enforcement community across the state,” he said.

Springer will continue Gootkin’s term, which is set to expire at the end of 2022. He will need to be elected again if he wants to continue in the position.

Gootkin was recently confirmed as Gov. Greg Gianforte’s pick to lead the Montana Department of Corrections.

Springer said he’s proud that the commissioners trusted him with the responsibility to lead the sheriff’s office. He said the office means a lot to him and he believes the position is the most transparent because it’s an elected spot.

“If people aren’t happy with the work you’re doing, they have the opportunity to choose someone else — in this case, two years from now,” Springer said.

Commissioner Scott MacFarlane said the county should feel fortunate that the process of picking a new sheriff was so easy and straightforward. He said that speaks to how satisfied and healthy the law enforcement culture in the county is.

“This is just a continuation of that positive culture that we have,” MacFarlane said.

Commissioner Zach Brown said working with Springer on difficult topics and seeing his record of service and commitment has been eye-opening in a positive way for him. He said Springer is equipped to be a great leader for the office because he’s “handled every job within that office.”

“This is a great opportunity to build a working relationship to tackle tough topics and conversations together between the commission and the sheriff, with Dan in that position,” Brown said.

Commissioner Joe Skinner said Springer has always been a “behind-the-scenes type leader.” He said he respects Springer and has no hesitancy of appointing him as the new sheriff.

“I’m really happy he gets this opportunity because I think he has a tremendous amount of potential to lead this office,” Skinner said.

Before coming to the sheriff’s office in 1996, Springer attended Montana State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. He then worked as a ranger in Yellowstone National Park.

Springer has served in the sheriff’s office as a detective, a patrol deputy, a K9 officer, a school resource officer, a SWAT commander, commander for the Missouri River Drug Task Force and commander for the Gallatin County jail. In 2011, he graduated from the FBI’s national academy.

Gootkin appointed Springer as undersheriff in 2012.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.

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