MTPR

Kirsten Pabst

Kirsten Pabst at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Missoula on July 19, 2018.
Maxine Speier

Last year the city of Missoula had 324 violent crimes, an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2011. Law enforcement say the meth epidemic is to blame, and Thursday announced that they’re addressing it with a local, state and federal partnership.

Missoula police car.
Cheri Trusler

An employee of the State Crime Lab in Missoula has allegedly stolen portions of evidence from pending drug cases.

Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst declined to offer specific details, but said the situation is ongoing.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox with Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, August 17, 2016.
Mike Albans

Missoula County initiated 195 local child protection cases last year. According to Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, that’s a new record.

“We’re seeing a real direct link, at least here, in this community between the rise in methamphetamine use and the need for children to be placed in foster care," Pabst says.

Left to Right: Clinical social worker Andy Laue; First Step social worker MC Jenni; Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst; Missoula Deputy County Attorney Brittany Williams; Missoula Deputy County Attorney Jordan Kilby
Edward O'Brien

Missoula’s County Attorney says helping victims of violent crime is deeply rewarding work.

But Kirsten Pabst adds there’s also a dark side to the job that’s not talked about enough.

“Prosecutors have a really high incidence of turnover, burnout and a really high incidence of suicide," Pabst says. "What we’re learning now, finally, is that doing this kind of work, which is good work and helping real people, isn’t sustainable unless you take care of it and process the trauma that we’re exposed to every day.” 

Mike Albans

When the U.S. Department of Justice started looking into how sexual assault cases were handled in Missoula in 2012, they found a lot of problems. That led the Department to try to establish oversight of the Missoula County Prosecutor’s office.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox ended up taking on that role. Yesterday, he said that his office’s oversight spelled out in a special legal agreement is no longer required.

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