NewsMissoula County


Missoula Mayor Engen proposes increase in MPD funding

Missoula Police Crusier
Posted at 6:50 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-18 11:26:38-04

MISSOULA — Protests across the country have called for the defunding of Police but in his proposed budget for 2021, Missoula Mayor John Engen supports an increase in their funding.

In his budget proposal for the year 2021 Missoula Mayor John Engen would like to see an increase in funding for city law enforcement.

Its an increase of roughly 600,000 dollars and 250,000 of it is dedicated to training expenditures.

Up from current training budget of roughly 40,000 dollars

“These are folks who deal with extraordinarily challenging human problems every day and the more skill they have the better they are at coping and helping the better off we will all be," said Mayor Engen.

That training comes at a time when law enforcement is continuously asked to do more and more.

Mayor Engen thinks that with Chief Jaeson White at the helm and an increasing in the budget that law enforcement is up to the task.

"Chief White who comes to us from another jurisdiction where training is highly emphasized has brought me a budget that he believes will bring our officers to a new level of understanding and professionalism and I think that’s great," said Mayor Engen.

Also about half of the budget will be federally subsidized and go towards hiring on two new officers.

One of which will be an additional downtown officer.

"Those officers really operate as quasi social workers. They work directly with masters of social work students so they are building relationships with people who find themselves vulnerable on the streets. As those relationships grow and trust increases what we are finding is that we can direct people to services so that their lives improve," said Mayor Engen.

The second officer that would be hired would be a digital forensics officer who could investigate crimes digitally as an example video from an instance where. A crime was committed.

One change Mayor Engen would like to see training for racial sensitivity.

He says as of now those lessons are not taught by a person of color and he has been advised by experts that needs to change.