2019 saw a reduction in violent crime in major cities throughout Montana, specifically Billings and Missoula, due in part to a concentrated effort by law enforcement called ‘Project Safe Neighborhoods’.

Missoula County has definitely seen a spike in violent crime since the COVID 19 restrictions were implemented locally,” said Pabst. “In the second quarter of 2020, which is April, May and June, we saw 132 indexed crimes reported compared to just 123 in that time period in 2019, so there was quite a jump there. In July we saw an even larger jump though in we were up to 63 violent crimes compared to just 39 in July of last year.

With the advent of the COVID 19 pandemic and the increase in methamphetamine trafficking in the state, the crime numbers have risen dramatically, according to Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst.

“Missoula County has definitely seen a spike in violent crime since the COVID 19 restrictions were implemented locally,” said Pabst. “In the second quarter of 2020, which is April, May and June, we saw 132 indexed crimes reported compared to just 123 in that time period in 2019, so there was quite a jump there. In July we saw an even larger jump though if we were up to 63 violent crimes compared to just 39 in July of last year.”

Pabst again referenced the 2019 crime numbers in Missoula.

“As you'll recall, in 2019, our numbers were down in every quarter in every single category, in large part to our efforts with the Project Safe Neighborhoods Project,” she said. “The spike this year, most of which is in the aggravated assault category, which includes non fatal shootings as well, verifies our concerns and you and I have talked about some of them; of growing meth fueled crimes, especially domestic violence and the rise in severity of domestic violence cases.”

Pabst said her office and all law enforcement agencies in Missoula city and county are galvanizing to address the issue of rising crime, however, there are services available to help those who have been victimized, especially by drug related crimes.

“If you and your children or somebody that you care about is being harmed, there is help available and it's in the form of safety planning, housing or counseling,” she said. “The number to the YWCA crisis hotline is 542-1944 or 1- 800-483-7858. You can also get pretty good information at YWCA of Missoula dot org.”

Pabst said the entire population can help to reduce crime by being more observant and reporting suspicious activity, and by being more mindful of their neighbors.

“Finally, we all need to look out for each other,” she said. “Neighbors need to check on neighbors, check on people. Reach out to those who might otherwise be isolated. And most importantly, call it in. If you see something, say something. If you hear something, call 911.”

Pabst appears on Talk Back each Friday to deliver the week’s crime report.

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