BOZEMAN – Gallatin County is the fastest-growing small county in the country. With that growth comes challenges local officials face including the increase in crime.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said in 2018 the Sheriff’s Office received a 50% increase in calls and he doesn’t expect that to slow down in 2019.
“We are busier than ever, there is no question about it just because of the growth and what has happened here,” said Gootkin. “Last year was really unique because we were down 8 deputies on light duty at one point. So it was a tough year for our folks, but detectives are busier than ever and it is sort of alarming the sort of cases that they are working on and the volume that that has gone up.”
What is alarming to Gootkin is the fact that the domestic disputes/strangulation cases also increased by 50% from 2017 to 2018.
“Those type of cases take a ton of time, take a lot of effort and you know thanks to the county commission they did add detective position this budget year and we are still trying to get that filled but yeah we are busier than ever,” said Gootkin.
The growth isn’t just affecting Bozeman, the whole valley saw an increase in crime. Gootkin said Belgrade, Manhattan, Three Forks, and Gallatin Gateway all fall into that mix. It was because of this high demand that the Sheriff’s Office helped with the DeWise homicide that happened in January of 2017.
The Gallatin County Commission added 3 positions to the Sheriff’s office: One detective and two patrol deputies. These deputies will help with the growing need patrol is seeing. Gootkin said patrol has to juggle being on call, transporting people from other counties and facilities, and bring inmates from the Gallatin County Detention to the courtrooms each day. Now that the positions have been approved in the budget the next step is getting them hired.
“You know so we get pulled in a bunch of different directions so they did help us last year and we are going to focus on getting those people hired,” said Gootkin.
The increase number of calls also spilled over to the Detention Center, which on average holds 150 inmates per day.
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News