Tester talks law enforcement at Glacier Park International
On Friday morning, Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., visited Glacier Park National Airport for a meeting with Northwest Montana law enforcement officials.
A variety of federal grants supplement local police budgets, and the Flathead Valley’s proximity to the U.S.-Canada border requires cooperation between these agencies and Customs and Border Protection. Last month’s 120,000, while the Blackfeet Police Department received 31,850 and $18,244, respectively, from the program last year. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas was also discussed as a source of funding for the Flathead.
Sheriff Curry stressed the seriousness of drug-related crime in Northwest Montana, identifying meth as the worst problem. “If there’s one area in my organization that I think we lack funding, or at least we could certainly better utilize more funding, is in our drug enforcement area,” he told Tester. “If there’s one thing we need to throw more money at, statewide, it’s that.”
Curry’s department did not receive Stonegarden funds last year. He told the Senator that it would be helpful if the grant program covered additional personnel, not just overtime.
Tester said he would see if he could adjust the program’s language. “If drug enforcement is the problem, then I would agree with you. It’s certainly something we spend a lot of time talking about back in D.C.”
Montana’s senior Senator has recently been a vocal advocate for law enforcement and border security. In January, he co-sponsored the Border and Port Security Act to fill an estimated staffing shortage of 3.600 customs agents at ports of agents.
After the meeting, he told reporters that funding for 300 additional agents had been included in the omnibus bill; where they’ll be stationed is up to Customs and Border Protection. The Border and Port Security Act itself remains in committee.
Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 758-4407.