by Travis Mateer
When I was a student at the University of Montana, I walked or biked down the Kim Williams trail whenever I needed a little break from classes. The trail takes you into the Hellgate canyon, so the area is fairly narrow, with a steep rock face to the south, and the Clark Fork river to the north.
When I worked at the Poverello Center, I became aware of this area being used by homeless people. During the summer of 2014, a young man by the name of Kevin Lino was living in this area when a fire started, causing his little gang of street kids to relocate to the Reserve Street area.
Then, in July of 2014, Kevin Lino and another man beat, tortured and executed Jack Berry with a single gunshot to the head before dumping his body into the river. I was involved in helping the Sheriff’s department with the investigation because I spoke with Jack’s girlfriend on the day Jack’s body was found by a fisherman.
Why am I telling this story now?
The Kim Williams area is back in the news because a bear was recently seen rummaging through a tent. The woman who was startled by this bear, Sherene Aun, actually works with homeless people as a mental health advocate, but she seems pretty naive about the notion of cleaning up this area. She called around, as did NBC Montana, only to have the city of Missoula point the proverbial finger at FWP and Parks and Rec:
We reached out to the City who says FWP is who deals with bears, and the City’s Parks and Recreation department removes abandoned camping gear when they’re notified of it.
FWP says there’s one best solution for the safety of campers and trail-goers.
“I would like the city to clean up the camp,” said Jonkel.
As for Aun, she believes the City should take preventative action before someone else isn’t as lucky as she was.
“This is more of a public safety issue that would need to be addressed and I would hate for it to end up as a mauling or a death and then action,” said Aun.
It’s cute that Aun thinks this should be considered a public safety issue and that authorities should therefore do something about it. Maybe the Incident Command Team will address this as part of their mandate to address homelessness in Missoula. If someone would call me back from the ICT (after I called and left a message on Monday) then I’ll ask them about this.
So stay tuned…
Good luck with that return phone call. The local pandemic response seemed to me late in declaring an incident and managing with the Incident Command System. In my opinion, interaction with the public was also negatively affected by the Incident Commander (IC) for the COVID-19 response, and the Public Information Officer (PIO) on the IC’s General Staff, seemingly not coordinating effectively to produce regular, periodic and consistent statements and responses to press inquiries. It also seems strange to me, to have an “Incident Command Team” per se; a multi-agency response plan identifying ICS categorization of a resource that is party to the plan, sure. Identifying by name, presumptive/default personnel to occupy particular functions, shouldn’t be controlling — one of the advantages of ICS is the fungibility and substitutability of personnel as an incident develops and more human resources become available via mutual aid, and volunteer groups and individuals. A qualified person on scene at an incident is the IC until relieved, etc. I’m not up on the nature and character of this Incident Command Team. Nothing wrong with the City having a generalized response team to maintain continuity of various city functions and services, etc. NERT, CERT, BERT are organized for such purposes at the neighborhood and busniess premises levels, with training enabling any combination of trained civilians from anywhere, to work efficiently even in small teams of strangers, that smoothly respond to incidents when official agencies are unable to meet demand or there is also a communications emergency. So, what can you tell us about this Incident Command Team?
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