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.
Pabst describes meth as a national epidemic that is an underlying cause of many neglect cases and violent crimes. That’s one of several takeaways from her newly released annual report for 2017.
Pabst notes that even though a new felony was committed every 12 hours in Missoula County last year, the local crime rate was, "pretty steady."
"The numbers are slightly down overall, but the severity is up slightly overall. It sort of comes out in the wash. We filed 65 more felonies than we did last year, and more juvenile delinquency petitions, but fewer misdemeanors."
Pabst’s office prosecuted 1,767 new criminal cases last year. Almost 42 percent of them were adult felonies. She says Missoula’s crime rate is almost on par with Montana’s other urban areas.