GREAT FALLS, Mont. - After hearing community concerns about crime rates in the Electric City, commissioners say they plan on making neighborhoods safer through an incoming task force.
Once it's up and running, the task force will work on recommendations to tackle local issues based on community input.
"What we end up doing is going to depend a lot on an abundance of public inputs," Commissioner Rick Tryon, who proposed the idea, said.
He tells Montana Right Now topics can range from property crime to mental health and even the legal process.
“What we’re looking for is all crimes across the board,” Tryon said. “Whether it’s violent or property crime, it’s crime that affects tax paying law abiding citizens in this community. So we look at all of it.”
However, to make this task force possible, commissioners need seven volunteers with experience in Great Falls' criminal justice system.
“It’s dealing with everything from drug abuse, to poverty, to domestic abuse, and I think that we need to have some representation from victim groups who can talk to us about exactly what happens to the people who have these crimes done against them,” City Mayor Bob Kelly said.
Tryon said he hopes to see more targeted efforts in lowering local crime.
"I've heard this many times. 'What do we do about crime in Great Falls? Well, we need more jail space.' Okay… Those are good suggestions, good ideas, but they're not specific,” he said. “They don't drill down enough into how do we do that, how do we pay for it, how much jail space?"
City commissioners will vote on task force members during their meeting on April 20. From there, they'll work on figuring out a good location and schedule for monthly meetings, allowing members of the public to voice their issues.
Tryon and Mayor Kelly tell MRN the task force will disband later this year. With that said, depending on how things go, they are open to making it a permanent addition to the city later on.