Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott Running for Second Term
After winning one of the most contentious elections in recent memory in 2014, TJ McDermott has filed for a second term as Missoula County Sheriff.
After taking office, McDermott began taking steps to put the acrimony of the election behind him, and four years later, looks back on what he sees as the brightest spots in the last four years.
“There’s been a lot of hard work over the last four years, but we’ve been able to replace a lot of the safety equipment for the deputies,” McDermott began. “They have new ballistic vests, all of them have body cameras and tasers. We’ve also replaced our patrol fleet that respond to service calls, and are on a five-year, 100,000 mile replacement timeline.”
McDermott said he has spent a great deal of time and effort in improving conditions and training at the Missoula County Detention Center.
“It’s a major part of my job, and one of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve come forward with a jail diversion plan,” he said. “It’s been adopted by the City of Missoula as well as the Board of County Commissioners. We want to bring forward some of those recommendations for our nonviolent, non-dangerous offenders and folks that suffer from substance abuse and addiction issues.”
McDermott said he and the county commissioners have placed improvements in equipment and vehicles into the budget going forward.
“In the years to come, money will be available on a replacement plan on a five year or ten year basis, so it won’t be as much of an issue going forward,” he said.
McDermott said the sheriff’s office and the other law enforcement agencies in the area, the Missoula Police Department, the Montana Highway Patrol and the Missoula County Attorney's office, have developed a close working relationship.
“It’s been a challenge when you look just at this last summer with all the violent crimes that we’ve had, and while those investigations were going on, we had to deal with all the fires this summer, it’s good to have those close relationships so that we can work together for the public,” he said.
McDermott said another positive aspect of his first term has been the reestablishment of a school resource officer for the county, Rebecca Birkett.
“That’s been very well received, and I’d like to work in the years ahead to expand that program and add to the one deputy that’s been covering all the schools in Missoula County.”
McDermott has received supportive comments from former Sheriff and Missoula Police Chief Doug Chase, County Commissioner Cola Rowley and retired District Court Judge Ed McLean.