Mineral County Sheriff's Office Profile: Sheriff Mike Toth
A brief dalliance with Hollywood didn't change Mineral County Sheriff Mike Toth's desire to be a law officer. (Courtesy photo)
Mineral Independent | May 5, 2021 12:00 AM
Being raised in Billings and graduating from Skyview High School, Mineral County Sheriff Mike Toth knew all along that he wanted to be in law enforcement.
“That was the plan since I was a little kid. Then later on, one of my older brothers’ friends became a police officer in Billings and I looked up to him and it kept going.”
After high school he even dabbled with Tinsel Town.
“I worked on the movie set of Far and Away. Thomas Gibson, who played the villain, came into a clothing store I worked at and we had a friendly visit as he purchased cowboy boots. Three days later someone came into the store and said, ‘Whose Mike’? And they pointed me out. ‘Would you like a job on the set? Mr. Gibson said to hire you.’ It was a blast as I got to meet Tom Cruise and Ron Howard and the experience was very exciting. That was the only career that kind of distracted me from my pursuit of a career in law enforcement thinking that this would be fun to do for a living, but it wasn’t the driving force that law enforcement was.”
For a hobby he started to umpire Little League and American Legion baseball a few years back. On his own dime, he went through a MLB professional umpire training academy in Florida as he enjoyed the game, and this was a way to stay in it.
Toth attended the Montana Police Academy, again, out of his own pocket. That is known as Pre-Service and obviously makes a strong statement on one’s resume as most officers attend from the department’s budget once they begin employment with them.
Hugh Hopwood, who was the Mineral County Undersheriff at the time, called him up for an interview and that was when he came to work for the MCSO in 1999.
After five years, he accepted a position with the Seattle Police Department which was a huge eye opener for Toth.
“Within my second or third week being there, my training officer shot and killed a guy in front of me. ‘Wow! I’ve made it to the big show’, I thought. We drew our weapons a lot out there and the culture of carrying personal weapons or firearms is totally different from Montana.”
However, the SPD is big on community policing and very transparent on how officers and complaints are handled.
“I’m trying to bring that here and people will see that we are posting much more on Facebook. I try to take the time to meet with people who come to talk to me face to face. I take phone calls all day, every day and I want people to know who is working for them and that our entire department from deputies to jailers to dispatch are here to serve them. This is my home and being their sheriff is an honor and I want to remain right where I am.”
Since being appointed by the county commissioners and having taken the oath last summer, Toth has made several upgrades and changes to the MCSO.
First and foremost, the Mineral County Jail has reopened after being closed on-and-off over the last three years.
In dispatch, the 911 Call Center is being completely replaced with state-of-the-art equipment as the current technology was outdated back in 2013.
And the $194,000 price tag is being covered by Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. Meaning, not a smidgen of Mineral County’s tax dollars is being tapped.
Cutting edge body cameras and Tasers are on every deputy today replacing weathered, worn and outdated devices. Soon, every deputy will be driving brand new police vehicles loaded with the newest high-tech gear on the streets and interstates.
This is a six-year payment plan that will stay within budget because as of late, the repair bills on the current vehicles outweighs the yearly payment of all the new cruisers.
Toth gives credit to his staff on the adjustment periods of learning the new equipment and policies that he has initiated while looking to the future.
“From the first time that I was here as a young aggressive officer, we’d sometimes roll our eyes when the boss would tell us to do something that didn’t make sense at all.
"Now, coming back with the experience of how a professional department needs to be run, how you contact each person that calls in with a report or concern and how you treat citizens properly, it all makes sense and I now understand what the boss was getting at. So much like kids not taking advice or following rules from their parents until they’ve lived on their own when you realize, oh my God, they were right!”