Campus police officer confronts hard realities

By BRETT NELSON/Montana State News

Sgt. Det. Mike Stanley lives in a world of facts and reality. Mike Stanley is real. He lives in the present and is constantly scanning his work and surroundings to ensure everything is running smoothly and systematically.

Stanley moved to Montana in the summer of 1999 from Virginia, where he was born and raised. He has been married to his wife Kate for five years. Stanley started with the Montana State University Police Department as a parking officer and was promoted to patrol sergeant in 2009 and in 2011 transferred to investigations as the detective sergeant.

Stanley described the process of his career choice: “I was never a police officer until I moved out here. When we first moved here I just wanted to find some kind of job that paid decent and had insurance. I needed a break. I took a year off work when I moved out here and then I started this thing. I started as a parking officer. I needed to pick a career path; I was already here and I was already established. The position for sergeant detective became available, so I applied. It was an internal transfer; I got hired and have been doing this ever since. It’s very rewarding and there is a lot of heartbreak.”

Stanley has a knack for strategy and planning. “I am a pre-planner. I am in my element when I have some kind of task that requires operational planning and strategy.” He described himself as detail oriented person, who is fair and open-minded. “I don’t rush to make decisions, but once I’ve made a decision it takes a lot to convince me otherwise,” he said.

As a detective for MSUPD, Stanley has what could be considered a difficult job. He described a recent suicide investigation and the difficulties involved. He spoke of how he had to investigate the suicide of a young man who shot himself over a recent break-up. He explained how it is important for him to be emotionally detached from certain aspects; otherwise he would not be able to do it.

“It takes a certain kind of person to do this job,” he said. Stanley further explained that he had to speak at a meeting later in the day that was not related the suicide investigation. “You just can’t take it personal,” he said.

Wearing the shield of law enforcement is not always easy work. Stanley said the ability to work under pressure is a necessity in his position. “Yes, it’s kind of a prerequisite for this kind of work.”

Del Pilar Bissell, a friend of Stanley said, “Mike Stanley is a great friend. M is my rock. He is one of the first people I turn to when I need critical advice and counsel. He has helped me with a lot of things, like the process of getting my United States citizenship.” Bissell, an immigrant from the Philippines, is working on attaining her citizenship in the U.S. and has come to rely on Stanley as a resourceful and helpful person.

Reality is the realm in which Stanley flourishes. He is a man of logic and rationale and a pillar of the MSU community.

“I don’t do fiction,” he said. “I need things that are real, because when it is real I can totally connect with it.” As far as movies and TV go, Stanley said, “I didn’t think much of “The Interview,” but I really enjoyed “Fury.” World War II, fightin the Germans of course.”

Stanley is adventurous and loves to travel. “I’ve been all over the world,” he said. When asked where he would recommend for a vacation, Stanley responded: “Trier Germany. Wine country. When you’re in Germany stick with white wines instead of the reds. It is a lot of fun there. There is a good bus system, a lot of shows. The drinking age is low but not everyone was drunk.”

Stanley is passionate about outdoor activities as well. Some of his hobbies include scuba diving, fishing, backpacking and mountain biking. He said if he could be anywhere in the world he would choose the island of Busuanga in the Philippines. “Busuanga is an absolute paradise,” he said.

“The place is just outstanding. It’s really clean; there are not a lot of people, not a lot of development. Busuanga is a scuba diver’s paradise.”

His wife Kate is also from the Philippines. Stanley has an enthusiasm for experiencing foreign cultures and exploring not only Montana but the rest of the world as well.

Stanley is a clean-cut guy. He wears a suit and comes across as important, yet friendly and approachable. He is experienced and has valuable things to say. He has an important role in the community and he handles himself well. Mike Stanley enjoys a challenge.

– Edited by Erin Murdock


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