City Commission to take first look at crime task force recommendations during Nov. 2 meeting

During their Nov. 2 work session, City Commissioners will review the recommendations from the crime task force.

The task force was established in the spring, met over the summer and at the end of September, finalized their recommendations to the commission. 

Crime task force members are: 

  • Shane Etzwiler – Chamber of Commerce
  • Nichole Griffith – Victim Witness Program
  • Sandra Guynn – member of neighborhood councils and president of Crime Stoppers
  • Dugan Coburn – Great Falls Public Schools
  • Jeff Newton – Great Falls chief of police
  • John Parker – district court judge
  • Sara Sexe – city attorney (retired as of Sept. 30)
  • Jesse Slaughter- Cascade County sheriff
  • City Commissioner Rick Tryon – ex-officio member

The task force made about seven pages of recommendations.

The commission will not take any formal action on the recommendations during their Nov. 2 meeting and will likely have several work session discussions about the recommendations before doing so.

The recommendations include tasking the Great Falls Police Department, legal department and Municipal Court administration with providing an assessment of the additional resources/personnel needed to address crime levels and case loads.

The GFPD and legal department annually provide such information during the city budget process. 

The commission and city manager do not have authority over Municipal Court staff, they work for the elected Municipal Court judge.

Recommendations from the task force include: 

  • Eight patrol officers for GFPD at an estimated cost of $800,000 which “would require funding outside of what the city is able to finance. Additional presence in the patrol bureau increases visibility, presence, detection crime response, and investigation. The department has done everything possible to schedule existing personnel to handle call volume.”
  • Four sergeants for GFPD at an estimated cost of $550,000, which “would require funding outside of what the city is able to finance.”
  • One crime analyst at an estimated $70,000, which “does fall within the city’s ability to finance. This position would provide needed technical capability/skill to assist with investigations using modern technology to gather, compile, and interpret data from crime reports to determine trends in a particular geographic area.”
  • One GFPD officer assigned to the Safe Trails Task force at $96,000, which “does fall within the city’s ability to finance. This position would work in partnership with the FBI and other federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to combat the growth of crime in Indian Country. Great Falls is in close proximity to two reservations.”
  • “Considering the city’s financial limitations’ effect on law enforcement, we recommend budget amendments and/or evaluate a public safety levy, identifying specific uses of funds if approved by electors.”

Background on the crime task force and crime in our community is in our previous coverage: 

City’s crime task force releases their recommendations, seeking public comment

City crime task force developing ideas for crime reduction recommendations

Crime task force continues learning about resources, challenges in city

State, federal and local prosecutors discuss trends, resources with city crime task force

New crime task force begins meeting

Crime task force meets for first time June 7

Crime task force members scheduled for appointment at May 18 commission meeting

City still working on membership for new crime task force

City establishes special panel to study crime

Crime study committee on April 6 Commission agenda

City discusses creation of crime task force

Mental health, crime focus of multiple agencies

Police, sheriff worried about rising crime; asking for community support, law changes

GFPD rolls out online crime mapping tool

GFPD, CCSO establishing violent crime prevention task force

GFPD asking public to register surveillance systems to aid in crime investigations

Finding solutions: Local efforts for mental health court; mental health police officer; pre-trial and addiction services

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