Montana Public Radio

law enforcement

A row of police vehicles, purchased with CARES Act funding, sits gathering tumbleweeds and flat tires in the parking lot of administrative offices in Crow Agency on March 12, 2021.
Olivia Swant-Johnson / UM School of Journalism

Last June, the Crow Nation created a new police department. Then, five months later, that department shut down with little notice as to why.

MTPR’s Freddy Monares spoke to Nikki Zambon and Olivia Swant-Johnson, the pair who reported the story for the Montana Native News Honors Project at the University of Montana’s School of Journalism.


Residents in some of Montana's larger cities are calling for police departments to revise use of force policy and bolster social services in the wake of several high profile instances of police violence against people of color.

Some departments say they’re already doing much of what’s being called for but they’re open to change.

On June 7, more than a thousand people marched through Billings, Montana’s biggest city, to raise awareness about racially charged police violence in the United States.

The Helena School District’s School Resource Officer (SRO) program will continue after a vote on July 27 by the Helena City Commission.

Commissioners voted unanimously to back a proposal by Commissioner Emily Dean to continue the contract that provides uniformed Helena Police Department officers in the city’s public schools through June 2021.

An estimated 1,000 people gathered outside the Montana State Capitol June 14 to protest the death of George Floyd in police custody and police treatment of people of color. The protest was mostly nonviolent, though a riot control team stepped in at one point to separate attendees and counter-protestors.

People rally at the Missoula courthouse on May 29, 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minnesota.
Sofia Stuart-Rasi / Montana Public Radio

The death of a black man while in police custody in Minnesota sparked reaction with a gathering in Missoula Friday. Around 50 people stood in front of Missoula’s courthouse lawn this morning responding to the death of George Floyd.

Border Agent Questions 2 Women For Speaking Spanish

May 21, 2018
Police car.

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are reviewing an encounter between a Border Patrol agent and two women who were speaking Spanish at a gas station in northern Montana, the agency said Monday.

Allegations have been made before of law-enforcement officers in Montana racially profiling people to find out their immigration status.

Billings Police Officer Kills Man At Casino Who Had Pellet Gun

Apr 10, 2018
Police car.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A police officer shot and killed a man authorities said was waving a black pellet gun and threatening patrons inside a casino early Tuesday — the second fatal shooting by officers in Montana's largest city in less than 24 hours.

Women and girls in Indian country go missing and are involved in homicides at a far greater rate than any other demographic of people in Montana. That’s according to testimony today in the legislative State-Tribal Relations Committee, which is studying the issue. 

Police car.

Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards will be asked to surrender his peace officer and coroner certifications, a law enforcement oversight group determined Tuesday. Edwards was charged with misdemeanor assault last June after an argument with his girlfriend; he returned to work in August.

Montana Law Enforcement Academy Administrator Glen stinar talks about the coursework for new cops, during a tour of the acadmemy campus in Helena, MT July 11, 2017.
Corin Cates-Carney

In the digital age of communication, the new generation of people becoming police officers need more training in how to communicate with the public. That’s according to leaders at Montana’s Law Enforcement Academy. They say having a conversation as a cop is different than what many new recruits are used to.