Project Safe Neighborhoods Yellowstone County one-year results show violent crime increase nearly halted
BILLINGS—In the one year that Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federal initiative, has been at work in Yellowstone County, law enforcement has dismantled methamphetamine trafficking rings, seized hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and numerous firearms, and prosecuted more than 200 violent offenders, top federal, state and local prosecutors announced today.
The one-year results show that a steadily growing violent crime rate in Yellowstone County has been almost stopped since PSN went into effect.
U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito discussed the PSN results during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Billings.
PSN is a reinvigorated U.S. Department of Justice initiative that targets the most violent criminals in high-crime areas and works with federal, state and local law enforcement and community partners to reduce crime and to develop a substance abuse treatment and prevention strategy. PSN began operating in Yellowstone County in April 2018.
“The significant increases in violent crime in Yellowstone County have almost stopped because of the hard work of our committed federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors,” U.S. Attorney Alme said. “Now, to reduce violent crime, we need to continue to get the most dangerous offenders off the street and we need to reduce the demand for meth,” he said.
“The Yellowstone County results of Project Safe Neighborhoods are clear: when it comes to meth and violent crime, enforcement works,” Attorney General Fox said. “The results we have achieved here are due to the commitment and collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement professionals working in tandem to target the worst offenders and bring them to justice. Our work in Yellowstone County and elsewhere will continue.” he said.
The violent crime rate in Yellowstone County has been increasing every year since 2014. In the 12 months prior to PSN beginning in April 2018, murder, robbery and aggravated assaults had increased almost 26 percent. And in the 12 months before that those crimes had increased by almost 16 percent. In the 12 months since PSN began, the growth in violent crimes has almost stopped, increasing just 1.3 percent.
To date, 170 defendants have been charged with federal meth trafficking, armed robbery and firearms offenses by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In addition, 245 pounds of meth, representing almost 890,000 doses and an estimated $11 million street value, have been seized. Law enforcement officers also have seized 212 firearms, including 57 semi-automatic assault-style rifles. The U.S. Marshals Service Violent Offender Task force has served 652 federal and state warrants on violent offenders.
Yellowstone County has filed 12 robbery cases and 22 assault with a weapon or aggravated assault charges.
“The Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute these offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” County Attorney Twito said.
PSN will continue its enforcement strategy to drive down the violent crime rate as well as work to reduce demand for meth through the Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect coalition. The coalition includes 62 nonprofit and governmental organizations working to create a community plan to reduce the demand for meth through prevention and treatment.
PSN Yellowstone County’s partners include the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office; Montana Department of Justice’s Prosecution Services Division, Highway Patrol and the Division of Criminal Investigation; the Montana Department of Correction’s Adult Probation and Parole Division; the Billings and Laurel police departments; the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office; Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.