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Yellowstone County representatives call for more early intervention to prevent crime escalation

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Matty Ring
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Wikimedia Commons
Representatives with Yellowstone County law enforcement, social services and local government say there’s a need for more early intervention services.

Representatives with Yellowstone County law enforcement, social services and local government say there’s a need for more early intervention services.

A report from the Billings Police Department shows there were more criminal homicides in 2020 than the previous 10 years, and law enforcement links the rise in violent crime to drugs like methamphetamine.

At a public safety roundtable event in Billings on Friday, County Attorney Scott Twito said early intervention could help would-be offenders break the cycle of addiction before it escalates to crime.

“What I’m saying is identify the population that would be amenable to treatment in that moment and divert them away from all of us, into the treatment world,” he said.

Gianforte said he heard representatives at the table flagging capacity issues in the county detention center, high numbers of inmates with mental-health related issues.

"If we did do more early diversion to get to the care they need before they got to a point that they’d have to be in the jail cell, we could really reduce the amount of people in the jails," he said.

The state established the Healing and Ending Addiction through Recovery and Treatment fund - or HEART fund - last year.

It directs $25 million dollars to treatment and substance abuse prevention annually using marijuana tax revenue, part of the tobacco tax settlement and federal Medicaid matching funds.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.