by Travis Mateer
I didn’t begin my day planning on being in the same room as Montana’s Governor. No, I just wanted to check out the Public Safety Roundtable I read about while sitting on my porcelain throne, doing what I imagine communication specialists do before preparing statements for public consumption.
My first problem was just finding out where to go. The public information person who I find to be consistently unhelpful, Jeanette Smith, told me to check with the Office of Emergency Management, but Nick had no clue about any roundtable.
I even spoke to someone at a non-profit that should have known this was going on, considering the federal money this organization has received to work directly with substance abuse and treatment options, but, again, a dead-end.
It wasn’t until I randomly asked a stranger downtown outside Break Espresso (who I later found out was Shannon O’Brien, H.D. 46) that I discovered this curiously secret “public” (or was it private?) event was being held on campus.
After paying for the privilege to park, I went to the UC, but, still, finding the event was challenging because it wasn’t listed where you’d expect.
Finally, after asking around (even some members of law enforcement appeared confused about the location) I found the public (or was it private?) meeting.
Well, despite the misinformation posted on the door, I strolled in (I tend to do this quite often as a person with white skin and a penis) to see what I could see.
And what I saw was some VERY IMPORTANT people.
So, who were some of the VERY IMPORTANT people at this public (or was it private?) roundtable meeting about fighting meth and finding indigenous woman (boys/men don’t ever seem to count). I’ll tell you, since I was there. County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, Police Chief Jaeson White, County Commissioner Josh Slotnick, and politicians like Ellie Boldman (formerly known by last names Smith and Hill), Shane Morigeau, Diane Sands, Shannon O’Brien and a guy I’m trying to recall his name. Also present, UM President Seth Bodnar.
One curious no show to this heavy-hitter meeting was the Sheriff of Missoula County, TJ McDermott. For some reason, TJ had better things to do, so he sent undersheriff Rich Mericelli, perhaps for his skills at doing media PR and acting in front of LIVE PD cameras.
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office appeared in the first episode of Live PD last week on A&E and western Montana is abuzz with what they saw.
Undersheriff Rich Marcelli says that they have received both positive and negative comments but so far it’s been about 10 positive to every negative comment.
Law enforcement says they expected a mixed response from the community and did extensive research leading up to the show to make sure it would be a positive experience for Missoula County.
Well, I can empathize with Rich Marcelli. I ALSO get a mix of positive and negative comments. And I ALSO want a camera following me around to document my kick-ass citizen journalism.
But, alas, all I can do is pull out my phone and record myself for a close-up.
Yes, excitement IS building.
Thanks for reading (and watching) this public (definitely public) report.
This KGVO article has a VERY interesting quote from Governor Gianforte because this quote is from BEFORE the roundtable, where several of the very important people DID NOT SHOW, like our Mayor, our Sheriff and two of the three County Commissioners.
Here’s Gianforte anticipating their presence at the meeting I crashed:
“We’re having a Public Safety Forum,” said Gianforte. “I did one in Billings about a month ago. Today we’re bringing together the mayor, the county commissioners, the sheriff, the chief of police, as well as addiction recovery experts. I’m here to listen. We’ve seen a remarkable spike in violent crime. Drugs are intertwined with this. What should we be doing as a state and in our local communities to make our communities safer and help people that are trapped in addiction become healthy and be self sustaining?”
This is all VERY curious. Insights in the comments are welcome.