Montana Needs More Investigators and Prosecutors, Says AG
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen is asking the state legislature for funds to hire more personnel to fight human trafficking and narcotics, in addition to more Highway Patrol Troopers and prosecutors to stem the tide of crime flowing into the state due to drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Knudsen was on the KGVO Talk Back show on Thursday with specific requests before the legislature.
AG Knudsen on Talk Back is Asking for Help from the Legislature
“It's one of the constitutional obligations that government in the state of Montana has to fulfill,” began Knudsen. “So that's why we're in front of the Montana legislature right now. Our entire agency budget is up for review right now in front of the joint subcommittee, and we're pitching for some modest increases to law enforcement resources in Montana because we really haven't done it in a long time.”
Knudsen first addressed the need for more narcotics officers and investigators.
“We're in front of the Appropriations Committee,” he said. “I'm asking for three more Narcotics Officers. That might not sound like much, but to places like Missoula to places like Yellowstone County and Billings, that's going to be a force multiplier for us because we're working with Federal Drug Task Forces as well. So that's one.”
Knudsen said More Investigators are Needed to Prosecute Human Trafficking
Knudsen said another serious need is for more investigators to deal with the growing scourge of human trafficking within Montana.
“Just a couple of years ago, we had no dedicated personnel dealing with human trafficking,” he said. “A couple of years ago in the legislature, they gave me two agents, but now these two agents are absolutely overwhelmed. The more layers of this onion, we peel back the stinkier it gets, and we just need more help with human trafficking. Our human trafficking cases at the state have increased just absolutely exponentially. Because of that, I'm asking for more human trafficking agents here at DCI to help us with this absolutely heinous problem.”
Once the criminals are arrested, more highly trained prosecutors are needed to complete the law enforcement process and see that the guilty are punished to the fullest extent of the law.
He's Also Asking for More Prosecutors and Highway Patrol Officers
“However, what we have found is not just on the law enforcement side, but we also saw it on the prosecutor side,” he said. “We don't have a lot of county attorneys and prosecutors who really understand these cases who know the law really well and are able to successfully prosecute them. That's why we see a lot of these cases go to federal courts. I want to change that. So, we're asking for one prosecutor, one dedicated prosecutor here at the Department of Justice, whose focus is going to be human trafficking. They're going to become a subject matter expert and they can help all the county attorney's around the state prosecute these cases because we are seeing them all over the state.”
Knudsen said he is also asking the legislature for three more investigators to improve service and responsiveness and an additional prosecutor to the Attorney General’s office to handle the additional cases associated with these and other investigations.
In addition, he is asking for within the Computer Crime Unit to specifically target internet crimes against children, and a coordinator to support the statewide Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Program.
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