Missoula Police Department Tackles Crimes and Injustices in Local Communities

Missoula’s Police Chief has recently presented the first ever annual report for the state’s second-largest police department. The purpose of the report is to show the public greater transparency about the duties of the Missoula Police Department while at the same time setting out the progress made in providing efficient policing services to improve local communities. While working with local neighborhoods to reduce the number of violent crimes committed, serving the community by becoming a cop in Missoula also means helping to ensure that arrests are always lawful and justified, and that the number of unreasonable incarcerations is minimized.

Reducing Unnecessary and Unlawful Arrests

According to the latest Police Scorecard for Missoula, 59% of arrests in the six years to 2019 were for low-level offences, one of which is possession of marijuana. While illegal drug use is a serious issue, in Montana 50% of arrests for marijuana involve possession of just one gram or less. Critics argue that these arrests are not only a waste of police resources but can also cause real hardship to individuals left with an arrest record.  As well as looking at minimizing the number of arrests for minor misdemeanors, it is vital to ensure that arrests are always legitimate. A police officer can only execute an arrest without an arrest warrant in certain circumstances, if they are witness to a criminal act for example, and probable cause must be promptly filed shortly after. Whether later convicted or not, an experienced lawyer can help to ensure that any defendant receives a fair and reasonable outcome.

Addressing Inequalities in the Justice System

A second grant for $700k has recently been awarded to Missoula County to help reduce the number of prison inmates at Missoula County Jail. As well as paying for more staff, the Community Justice Department will use the two year grant to further initiatives started in 2018 to improve public safety and the use of public money. In addition, the money will fund the examination of data from the jail to help identify potential racial inequalities throughout the Missoula justice system.

Minimizing Violent Crimes in Local Communities

While ensuring only lawful arrests and fair incarcerations, firmly dealing with the causes and consequences of violent crime is still a priority in Missoula. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a national initiative that was introduced to Missoula in 2018 to help target serious offenders, and, in conjunction with other programs tackling drug abuse, it has helped to identify and deal with many of the motives behind violent crime.  As a result of the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, Missoula saw a 30% drop in crime last year, a decrease for the second year running in robberies, aggravated assaults and murders.

Community initiatives have been successful in reducing the number of serious crimes in Missoula. While prosecuting violent criminals remains a priority, steps are also being taken to reduce the number of unfair arrests and discriminatory incarcerations.