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Sen Daines Hears Law Enforcement Concerns About Meth In Montana

L to R: Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott, Sen. Steve Daines and Lake County Sheriff Don Bell during a Missoula meeting about meth, April 18, 2019.
Edward O'Brien
Montana Public Radio
L to R: Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott, Sen. Steve Daines and Lake County Sheriff Don Bell during a Missoula meeting about meth, April 18, 2019.

Montana’s Republican U.S. Senator was in Missoula Thursday. He invited police and prosecutors to share their concerns about Montana’s meth crisis.

Sen. Steve Daines wanted straight talk on methamphetamine’s impacts on western Montana. Regional law enforcement gave him plenty to chew on.

Missoula Detective Guy Baker: "We all know that money is traded for dope, as are guns, but girls are traded for dope, too."

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino: "I appreciate you being here because I feel like sometimes, we’re forgotten. Montana is at this pivotal changing point here."

Ravalli County Drug Detective Scott Burlingham: "We need to make it hard and painful for drug dealers in Montana. Some people say that’s too harsh and mean. Frankly, I don’t care what those people think."

They were three of about 15 law enforcement officers who crammed into a small conference room Thursday at the Missoula County Sheriff’s office.

Collectively they told Daines that meth continues to leave a trail of human wreckage in its wake; child abuse, devastated families, unprecedented levels of violent crime and overwhelmed jails.

The participants agreed the vast majority of the drug comes from Mexico and must be shut off at the source.

Daines, who supports construction of a wall along the southern border, as well as the hiring of more border patrol agents, says more can also done right here in Montana.

"We’ve got to deal with education," Daines says. "Educating the youth of Montana about the terrible effects of meth and of drugs. There’s a law enforcement issue of taking the folks off the street who are trafficking and dealing in meth. And then there’s treatment of those Montanans who are addicted to meth. They need help as well. It’s a three-pronged attack."

At the end of the meeting Daines distributed a booklet highlighting some of the available federal grants to combat the meth epidemic.

Missoula City Police Detective Guy Baker says tracking down meth-related law enforcement grants can be complicated and time consuming, adding he appreciated the resource that Daines distributed.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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