BOZEMAN — A detective from the Montana State University Police Department recently received an award recognizing her services to the university and Gallatin County communities.

Detective Amy Ross received the Officer of the Year award from the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police on Feb. 10. She is the first member of UPD to receive the award. Ross is a member of the local Special Victims Unit — a six-member team consisting of officers from UPD, the Bozeman Police Department and other Gallatin County agencies — which investigates felony sex and other violent crimes.

“I’m a little bit blown away. I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Ross, who has been with UPD since 2006. “I work with an excellent team, which is why I can succeed. We work together well; it’s a unique group of people who work hard, and they deserve this as much as I do. We all take care of people who have been victimized in the community, and this award goes to my team.”

Ross was nominated by the SVU in recognition of the amount of work she has accomplished over the years between the SVU and university police department, as well as her professionalism and compassion. According to her nomination letter, over the last 18 months she has completed 39 forensic interviews at the Gallatin County Child Advocacy Center, been the lead investigator on 58 felony cases — 35 involving juveniles — and has had played a role in the other 190 felony cases the unit has worked. Ross primarily investigates child sex crimes with the SVU.

Ross, along with Bozeman Police Detective Anthony Hutchings, was instrumental in the creation of the SVU. The unit came to be when Ross and other members of Gallatin County law enforcement saw overlap of suspects and crimes. The team of six detectives helps maximize support for victims in the area. Ross said, since the SVU’s inception on May 23, 2018, that conviction rates have increased.

Ross graduated from MSU in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and said she has a passion for her community. She said it has been a terrific experience to go from being a student to serving and protecting campus as law enforcement. Ross added that MSU has been a very supportive environment, thanks in part to President Waded Cruzado’s support of UPD as well as the training and encouragement the department gives its officers.

“These are my people, this is my place, this is my community that I love and care about,” Ross said. “I am so excited to get to help out with keeping my community safe and giving them the best possible investigations and best resources. It’s been a cool experience.”

UPD Chief Kevin Gillilan said Ross is incredibly professional in her work and she is a team player with the rest of the department. He said she is willing to pick up extra tasks, provide guidance to officers and does the same when she works with members of the community.

“We’re certainly proud of her,” Gillilan said. “I came in (as chief) in late April, and one of the things I found out about Amy fairly quickly is that she is passionate about what she does. She’s the right person in the right job to make a difference.”