BILLINGS – Meth use and related violent crime remains a big problem Montana and Yellowstone County, and it’s easier to get than you may realize.
That was the message the Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect Coalition delivered to community leaders in Billings in a report released Friday.
“To think how easy it is, for only $20 you can get very high-grade, cartel-delivered methamphetamine in Billings, Montana is shocking,” said Katie Loveland, the report’s author. “When people talk to me about the South neighborhood, they said, ‘oh yeah you can go outside here and get it in 10 minutes, no problem.’ For someone who is not a user, it’s surprising to realize how easy the access is and to think about kids running around and experimenting and how easy it is to access that kind of stuff in our community is concerning for sure.”
According to a community assessment report, statewide violent crime is up 35 percent from 2013 through 2017. and Billings violent crime is up 75 percent between 2010 and 2017, largely due to the methamphetamine epidemic.
To address the problem, United Way of Yellowstone County worked with U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme and the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative to form the Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect Coalition.
Members of the coalition government and service agencies met Friday all with a mission to combine prevention, treatment diversion and enforcement efforts into one plan.
The Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect Coalition will meet again next month to brainstorm more with the members who attended the meeting.
Reporting by Zoe Zandora for MTN News