City considering new policing agreement with housing authority

City Commissioners will consider during their Jan. 3 meeting whether to accept the new community based policing agreement with the Great Falls Housing Authority.

Staff is recommending approval.

The agreement between the city police department and the housing authority has been in place since the late 1980s, according to the city.

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Under the agreement, the housing authority funds one dedicated officer for enforcement and investigations within the housing authority properties. The officer also facilitates the youth activity center at the main housing complex, according to the Great Falls Police Department staff report.

The officer handles calls during their designated shift and patrol officers handle calls when the designated officer is off duty, according to the staff report.

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The designated housing authority officer alleviates a “substantial” amount of calls that patrol officers would otherwise have to respond to, freeing those officers up to handle other calls, according to GFPD.

“Historically, call loads were high until the housing authority officer was established,” according to GFPD.

The Great Falls Housing Authority provides office space at the main complex for the officer.

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Under the agreement, the housing authority will pay the city $108,847 for the officer’s salary and benefits.

If approved, the contract begins Jan. 1 and runs through June 30 with an automatic six-month renewal based on the police union’s negotiated contract wage with the city.

In August, the Great Falls Housing Authority board voted not to renew their management agreement with the city effective Dec. 1.