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Yellowstone County representatives call for more early intervention to prevent crime escalation

 Representatives with Yellowstone County law enforcement, social services and local government say there’s a need for more early intervention services.
Matty Ring
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Wikimedia Commons
Representatives with Yellowstone County law enforcement, social services and local government say there’s a need for more early intervention services.

Representatives with Yellowstone County law enforcement, social services and local government say there’s a need for more early intervention services.

A report from the Billings Police Department shows there were more criminal homicides in 2020 than the previous 10 years, and law enforcement links the rise in violent crime to drugs like methamphetamine.

At a public safety roundtable event in Billings on Friday, County Attorney Scott Twito said early intervention could help would-be offenders break the cycle of addiction before it escalates to crime.

“What I’m saying is identify the population that would be amenable to treatment in that moment and divert them away from all of us, into the treatment world,” he said.

Gianforte said he heard representatives at the table flagging capacity issues in the county detention center, high numbers of inmates with mental-health related issues.

"If we did do more early diversion to get to the care they need before they got to a point that they’d have to be in the jail cell, we could really reduce the amount of people in the jails," he said.

The state established the Healing and Ending Addiction through Recovery and Treatment fund - or HEART fund - last year.

It directs $25 million dollars to treatment and substance abuse prevention annually using marijuana tax revenue, part of the tobacco tax settlement and federal Medicaid matching funds.

Copyright 2022 Yellowstone Public Radio. To see more, visit Yellowstone Public Radio.

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.