MTPR

Kirsten Pabst

Some of the weapons confiscated over the past year by Project Safe Neighborhoods Missoula County, shown during a press conference, May 29, 2019.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

The City of Missoula’s violent crime rate increased 50 percent between 2011 and 2017. Authorities blame methamphetamine for that unprecedented spike in murders, robberies and aggravated assault.

Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst Wednesday shared an ugly, real world example of the kind of havoc that meth wreaks.

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.” 

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