MISSOULA – Last fall, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed all United States Attorneys to reinvigorate the Department of Justice initiative, known as Project Safe Neighborhoods, to reduce violent crime in communities.
“Montana is in the midst of a substance abuse crisis. We see it around us every day rising crime rates growing need for government services, the deaths of our friends and our loved ones, and so the solutions can’t come soon enough," Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said about
Since that time, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies launched a Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative in Missoula County.
"The state of Montana and Missoula County, in particular, have seen a significant rise in the violent crimes in recent years and an exponential growth in methamphetamine and other drugs," said Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst. "Simultaneously, child protective cases are skyrocketing. The connection between violence drugs and a parenting crisis cannot be overstated."
Project Safe Neighborhoods encourages collaboration between different law enforcement agencies to help lower violent crime rates.
"Every federal state and local law enforcement and prosecution entity is cooperating in this effort, so what’s happening is regular meetings, regular communication among all of these law enforcement partners," United States Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Officials think that this collaboration between law enforcement agencies is a good start, but they believe the next step must include substance abuse prevention and mental health treatment.
"The next step is to go beyond enforcement to prevention and treatment," Alme said. "Our goal is to work with others in the prevention and treatment community in Missoula, as well as state funding sources to try and support any comprehensive community plans that can be formed to address this problem from a prevention and treatment perspective as well as enforcement."