GFPD, CCSO establishing violent crime prevention task force

The Great Falls Police Department and Cascade County Sheriff’s Office are teaming up to establish the Violent Crimes Prevention Task Force “to target, dismantle and disrupt criminal organizations with an emphasis on apprehending felony offenders in Cascade County,” according to the GFPD staff report.

During the March 3 meeting, City Commissioners will consider an interlocal agreement between GFPD and CCSO to formalize their official collaboration. The agreement is needed for planning and training, operational, budgetary and liability reasons, according to the staff report.

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Cascade County Commissioners are scheduled to consider the interlocal agreement during their March 10 meeting.

GFPD Chief Dave Bowen told The Electric that this city-county task force “will have a focus on developing probable cause for charges against those committing violent offenses in our community and ultimately working with the U.S. Marshals and others to make the arrest.”

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Bowen said the task force will also work with federal law enforcement partners to pursue charges at the federal level through the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to Bowen’s staff report for the March 3 commission meeting, no funds will be transferred between the city and the county for the agreement.

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Under the agreement, the city and county retain responsibility over their own employees, vehicles and other assets and be responsible for their own costs related to personnel and equipment they use while performing duties for the task force.

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Overall management of the city-county task force will be shared responsibility of the GFPD and CCSO but CCSO will be the lead, according to the agreement.

“Participants of the management team shall include the CCSO and GFPD command staff teams. The ranking CCSO detective assigned to the task force shall serve as the operations supervisor and shall oversee the day to day operational and investigative functions of the task force. In the event of a disagreement among the management team for the task force, the Cascade County Sheriff shall be the final leadership
authority,” according to the agreement.

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All task force investigative reports will be maintained by CCSO, according to the agreement, as will evidence and original recordings acquired during task force investigations.

If during their investigations, the task force discovers and seizes narcotics and/or drug related assets, it’s the prerogative of the task force to refer such items to the Russell County Drug Task Force pursuant to the terms of that agreement, but any asset forfeitures that are not subject to the HIDTAA agreement shall be distributed equally between the county and the city, according to the agreement.

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The task force agreement also provides for deputizing each GFPD officer assigned to the task force so they can operate outside the city limits and in the CCSO’s jurisdiction.

The city also has an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service for the Montana Violent Offender Task Force.

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That partnership was established in 2018.

Bowen said that task force is focused on tracking down and arresting those who have felony warrants. They aren’t investigating and tracking those committing violent crimes, but are searching for those wanted by the courts for charges filed and warrants issued, he said.