MISSOULA—For the second straight year, murders, robberies and aggravated assaults in Missoula County have decreased as law enforcement continues investigating and prosecuting methamphetamine trafficking, firearms offenses and armed robberies through Project Safe Neighborhoods, announced federal, state and local prosecutors today.
Crime statistics show that in Missoula County, these violent crimes decreased by 9.2 percent in the 12-month period ending May 2020. Overall, violent crime has decreased 25.7 percent since PSN was launched in May 2018, and 85 fewer people were the victim of a violent crime than in the 12 months before PSN began.
PSN is a reinvigorated U.S. Department of Justice initiative that targets the most violent criminals in high-crime areas and works with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and community partners to reduce crime.
PSN Missoula County’s partners include the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Missoula County Attorney’s Office; Montana Department of Justice’s Prosecution Services Bureau, Highway Patrol and Division of Criminal Investigation; the Montana Department of Correction’s Adult Probation and Parole Division; the Missoula Police Department; the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office; Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
“The continuing decline in violent crime in Missoula County is great news for the community. This focus on taking meth dealers and the most dangerous offenders off the street is working. But we’re not done. We also must reduce demand for meth through a comprehensive prevention, treatment and diversion plan. I want to recognize the cooperation and hard work of all of our PSN partners for making Missoula County a safer place to live,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
“Our continued success in reducing violent crime in Missoula County is due to hard work, multi-agency collaboration, and targeted enforcement,” Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said. “I am proud of our city, county, state, and federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors and the great results we have achieved working together.”
“Working together with our law enforcement and justice partners is beginning to pay off. We’re bringing the highest risk offenders to justice while, at the same time, building a foundation for local drug treatment and prevention efforts. I am proud of our law enforcement team’s great work,” Missoula County Attorney, Kirsten Pabst said.
From 2011 to 2017, the City of Missoula’s violent crime rate had increased 49 percent. Methamphetamine was identified as a primary cause of the increase.
In the 24 months PSN has been in effect, Missoula’s murders, robberies and aggravated assaults have fallen 25.7 percent to 246 crimes.
Since May 1, 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s office has charged 73 defendants with federal meth trafficking, armed robbery and firearms crimes.
In addition, 60 pounds of meth, representing 217,440 doses and having an estimated $450,000 street value, have been seized in the federal cases. Law enforcement officers also have seized 65 firearms, including three semi-automatic assault-style rifles. The U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offender Task force has served 938 federal and state warrants on violent offenders in Missoula County.
Since May 2018, Missoula County Attorney’s Office has charged 39 persons identified as high risk with charges including meth or heroin possession, assault with a weapon, burglary, deliberate homicide and strangulation.
In addition to continuing its enforcement strategy to further cut the violent crime rate by reducing the meth supply, PSN is working with a community coalition called Missoula Substance Abuse Connect. A coalition of more than 30 nonprofit and government organizations, coordinated by United Way of Missoula County, has formed to develop a community plan to reduce the demand for meth through prevention and treatment.