One of the featured guests at the forum was Missoula Police Chief Jaeson White, who expanded on his comments at the forum to KGVO News.
From the Governor to the state Attorney General to every local police chief and county sheriff, White added his voice to the chorus of those deeply concerned about the problem of illegal drugs coming into the community.
“I think the most important piece is the education of the public regarding the drug issue that we are experiencing in Missoula, as well as Montana,” began Chief White. “You know, we’re seeing an increase in methamphetamine trafficking. We’re seeing an increase of fentanyl coming into our communities, and I think that’s important for people to understand.”
White, who came to Missoula from the California Highway Patrol, said Missoula is like hundreds of other smaller communities being invaded by drugs like Methamphetamine and Fentanyl.
“Unlike the past, where it was something that was a little bit more local and regional, this is all interstate stuff coming from states far away or from out of the country that’s making its way to Missoula,:” he said. “We’re making sure that there are law enforcement resources at the local level, at the county level at the state level, and at the federal level that are addressing this problem.”
White said with the increased trafficking of meth and fentanyl, there has been a commensurate increase in violent crime in Missoula.
“One of the things that we’re seeing as a part of this problem, unfortunately, is an uptick in our violent crime,” he said. “It’s directly attributable to the drug trafficking that we’re seeing, so we want to work with the governor and the elected officials, because obviously they’re clearly our partners and we’re addressing this issue with them.”
White said all levels of law enforcement are joining forces to fight the epidemic of drugs and violent crime in Missoula.
“We have the Missoula Drug Task Force which is made up of Missoula Police officers, and Sheriff’s Department personnel,” he said. “We also have state representatives from DCI Probation and Parole and, and the Montana Highway Patrol is a piece of it. We also partnered with the federal law enforcement agencies such as the DEA, and FBI, because when we all work from local through the federal level, then we can we can address the things that are happening here in Missoula. Now, because we have that wider net, we can take on the interstate commerce and the interstate drug trafficking that’s going.”
Governor Gianforte hosted a number of community law enforcement, government and medical professionals at the Public Safety Forum.
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