MISSOULA — A recent report shows there was a significant drop in violent crime for 2019 in Missoula County, despite exemplifying other problems.
"I think it's really important to note that we've seen a decrease in the number of criminal complaints that were filed in 2019,” Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst said.
Following a surge of violent crime in Missoula County in 2018, crime numbers decreased by more than 18% between May of 2018 and April of 2019. Since that time, violent crime cases have declined by another 11%.
Most of Missoula County's criminal justice resources are used responding to crimes against people, according to the 2019 report.
Pabst says methamphetamine continues to be a major crime driver in and around Missoula.
Meth users are more likely to perpetuate domestic violence, and are nine times more likely to commit homicide, according to surveys referenced in the report.
"We also see meth abuse and or addiction in the dependent and neglect cases, so it's really, really important and it’s something that we're looking at,” Pabst told MTN News.
Child protection and dependent neglect cases declined for the second year in a row last year. “Although we very much appreciate that the crime numbers are down, we are cautiously optimistic,” Pabst said.
She added that the downward trend is still new, and they are prepared in case rates go back up.
According to the report, petitions to involuntarily commit homeless people increased by 10% last year and are now making up 40% of cases that go through the courthouse.
Still, Pabst says they are working with the legislature to implement programs that will help reduce recidivism.
"We're treating each case individually and responding to each case individually," she stated.
Click here to read the full report.