“Just going through the numbers for 2016, it’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a methamphetamine epidemic that we’ve talked about almost every week,” Pabst said. “We are seeing a similar heroin trend as well as the pill cases and the opiates. Last year we filed felony charges in 93 methamphetamine cases, and that’s huge. Not far behind, we have 24 cases filed dealing with felony heroin and opiate use.”
Pabst was particularly concerned in the rise of violent crime directed toward children that also has its roots in drug use.
“We also have a huge spike in crimes that affect children and the neglect of children.,” she said. “With these drug cases, if we could just isolate the drug use we could look at treatment as an option, but we have this cascading effect on other types of crimes. We’ve also seen an increase in drug-driven property crimes, such as burglaries and thefts as a means for people to fuel their drug addictions.”
Pabst said her office has had to deal with drug-related violent crime almost on a daily basis.
“Every other day in Missoula County, someone in our community is the victim of a violent offense,” she continued. “That’s significant, but the thing that was really startling to me was that 60 percent of the violent crimes processed by our office arise in the context of a domestic violence or family violence situation, and that’s something that we really just can’t ignore.”
On the positive side, Pabst expressed pride in her office’s handling of the sexual assault issue and the national attention it brought to Missoula.
“We are done with the DOJ,” she said. “We’ve finished that agreement and I consider that a huge success. We’re getting accolades now from state and national leaders and our SVU (Special Victims Unit) program as a result of that is considered to be a model program that other communities are studying so they can better respond to sexual assaults in their own communities.”
Pabst said she will have the full official year-end report ready for release after the new year.
KGVO thanks County Attorney Pabst for her willingness to provide a live weekly report to our listeners every Friday, where she answers questions from listeners as part of her campaign pledge to provide transparency in the office of the county attorney.