Missoula’s Leadership Problem

by Travis Mateer

If we’re going to continue utilizing a hiearchal approach to managing our institutions and branches of government, a better range of choices when it comes to leadership sure would be nice.

While we’re being told the Mayoral leader of Zoom Town is handling pancreatic cancer treatment just fine, the young African immigrant who challenged him last election cycle got issued a no-contact order last month with the woman he has a baby with.

Even though the choices were shitty, at least there was an option for Mayor besides John Engen. That’s not the case with the Sheriff’s Office this election cycle.

Before we get to the problems, let’s first take a look at the role of the Sheriff. Here’s something from Wikipedia:

In the United States, a sheriff is an official in a county or independent city responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing the law.[1] Unlike most officials in law enforcement in the United States, sheriffs are usually elected, although some states have laws requiring certain law enforcement qualifications of candidates. Elected sheriffs are accountable directly to the citizens of their county, the constitution of their state, and ultimately the United States Constitution.[2]

The responsibilities of sheriffs and their agencies vary considerably by county. Many sheriffs have the role of a police chief, though some lead agencies with limited law enforcement duties. Sheriffs are also often responsible for managing county jails and security at local government buildings.

Yes, the role of the Sheriff often extends to things like managing jails and providing coroner services. It’s a VERY important position, as people learned during the plandemic.

Before Missoula elected T.J. McDermott, our Sheriff was Carl Ibsen, and the most impressive thing about this man was his mustache. I mean, just look at this manly epitome of law enforcement:

While Ibsen looks good in this pic, he looked LESS good in this article about how he conducted himself during his tenure. From the link:

On the first day of a sparsely-attended session, now-retired Sheriff Carl Ibsen testified on behalf of his former Undersheriff, Josh Clark. Counsel for the County of Missoula, Steve Carey, asked Ibsen about a domestic violence case regarding former Deputy Paige Pavalone in 2014.

Ibsen testified that a friend of Pavalone’s had called him regarding the incident, and that he responded to the residence ‘only as a friend, not a cop’. Carey then probed Ibsen about a report that was published in the Missoulian newspaper from the Department of Criminal Investigations at the Montana Department of Justice by investigator Brant Light, that was critical of Ibsen’s behavior in the matter, calling it ‘egregious’. Ibsen said no one even attempted to contact him about the investigation.

One of the things we do as cops is we investigate everything,” Ibsen said. “Doesn’t matter if you want to talk to the people involved or not, you talk to everybody. By the wording of the letter (from the AG’s office) I would assume I was a prime player in it. I was maybe even the prime focus of it. Nobody from the Attorney General’s office or the investigators even talked to me. Nobody tried to get hold of me, and I’m not that hard to find.”

The emphasized quote from Sheriff Ibsen seems like common sense when it comes to law enforcement, but that was before I became familiar with Mike Toth, the utterly worthless Sheriff of Mineral County.

When leaders aren’t modeling good behavior, it’s easy for morale to suffer. And if leaders aren’t dedicated to ensuring their subordinates are good people doing honest work, then the opposite might happen.

One of my sources, who is pretty damn familiar with the Sheriff’s Department, told me about a Deputy he was familiar with. After getting the name, I looked up the incident that got him fired. Here’s the Missoulian story detailing the lengths Missoula County Sheriff Deputy, Larry Schwindt, went to in order to have sexual contact with a 17 year old boy.

Larry Schwindt was fired from the department in January during an investigation into a complaint that he had engaged in an inappropriate and possibly unlawful relationship with a 17-year-old minor.

Schwindt’s plea Tuesday in Missoula Justice Court before John Odlin was based on events that led up to and ensued from a sexual encounter he had with a 17-year-old male in a parking lot in Alberton in the spring of 2012, according to court records.

Schwindt pleaded guilty to one count of official misconduct and one count of attempted unlawful transactions with children, first offense. Both are misdemeanors.

A third charge of high misdemeanor prostitution was dismissed. It was based on Schwindt’s admitted use of a digital alter ego on Craigslist, “Sarah Richardson,” to initially engage the boy.

This incident was adjudicated around the same time Missoula transitioned from Ibsen’s leadership to McDermott’s. For some more context on the supposed bonafides of T.J. McDermott, here’s some info from the County website:

T.J. McDermott began his law enforcement career with the Anaconda Police Department in 1995. In 1998, he joined the Missoula City Police Department. While assigned to the uniform patrol division, he was selected to be a member of ‘Target Enforcement Unit’, today known as the ‘Street Crimes Unit’, and worked proactively to identify and apprehend subjects with gang affiliation or membership who were involved in street crime activity. He also served as a Field Training Officer (FTO) with the police department’s Field Training and Evaluation Program (FTEP) for new recruits.

In 2003, became a deputy with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office. In 2006, he was selected as a detective and was assigned to both the Burglary Theft Division and Person Crimes Division, where he became a key member of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

In 2011, T.J. McDermott was selected by the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) as one of the nation’s ‘Top Cops’ for his work on a ‘Cold Case’ homicide. He traveled to Washington D.C. and met with President Obama along with other ‘Top Cops’ during the awards ceremony.

The highlights that pique my interest include gang activity, crimes against children, and going to Washington D.C. to meet Obama.

If you think shitty Sheriffs have a negative impact on the county in which you reside, here’s a slightly positive thought: there’s only 4 more months left to endure the current “leadership” of T.J. McDermott and Mike Toth. And, if you live in Mineral County, you actually HAVE A CHOICE!

Thanks for reading, and have a safe weekend!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to Missoula’s Leadership Problem

  1. John Ulrigg says:

    Earlier this year I observed about eight sheriff’s deputies raid a house on poplar Street wants to go down block the street take people away kind of weird because that’s in the city and there was no City police involved but this is what I’ve come to expect from our law enforcement the sheriff’s department supposedly has lawful oversight over misconduct by the police that’s a laugh

    Now I can talk about Paige pavilone she glomed herself into a position with the New Hope Church she does all this helping and hands up for the homeless population this is a sad mistake because this woman is evil and vindictive told me to get the f*** off her Facebook page cuz I outed Ethan Smith one of her partners in crime what’s a homeless outreach programs

    That b**** be crazy

    And then you got her friend steal the speed breast

    Another disgraced badger

    No One believes me that there’s

    Zero accountability and zero transparency for law enforcement in this town

    I am the poster child for how systemic abuse can be acted out on someone and kept up for new 20 years without any accountability

    you name it two cops come to my house on a Monday morning 9:00 push their way into my house beat the s*** out of me next thing you know I’m in jail for assault on a police officer

    Get found not guilty the gates of hell open up

    This is a legitimate not guilty not a technicality not some b******* this is a jury trial fully played out 60 some pieces of evidence against me and nothing put on on my defense not even my testimony and I was found not guilty

    But you think that matters to every piece of s*** blue wearing suited m*********** in this town nope

    Every one of those pieces of s*** passes up on their friends and blue suits that gets away with crimes because their day will come when they need that pass

    F*** them all f*** every one of them who swears and allegiance to the citizenry and then treats them how you’ve treated me

    You’ve done everything you’ve come after my family after my people you’ve destroyed anything I’ve tried to accumulate and build wealth with legally but you quite illegally destroyed it

    this is the biggest fog of misconception in this town is it law enforcement is flawless and seamless and does everything above board that’s exactly what they want you to eat a nice piece of humble pie and then shut the f****** about how we enforce the law on this town don’t question us

    So what was going on on South avenue on Sunday morning about 9:30 drove by there cops were blocking every side street blocking off Arthur you can still drive through there but there’s five cops bucked up to a house on South avenue right across from the softball field and guess what it never even made the 911 daily public report see that’s the public accounting branch of our 911 center

    So if you don’t see something on the 911 daily public report it’s being covered up

    How’s that for transparency kind of hard to see through huh

    The people who control the information are also the ones who are bashing people’s lives so they bash someone and then say nothing to see here move along unless you want some bashing too

    I’ve talked to several developers people who know me and watch me struggle to develop property so I can have an income stream and they’ve watched me be battered by development services of the city of Missoula and I’ve said well would you testify in court oh f*** no I need them to build my empire

    So because I won’t swallow a big load of their b******* or let him shove it up my ass I don’t get to have a life here wow the government squashing someone’s opportunity and chance to have a life I think that flies in the face of the f****** Constitution last time I checked

    Hope it don’t give me started on how they wipe their asses with our constitution here just ask someone about how they’ve had their vehicle seized by the thief Bob Hilliard and his thief band of fevers that drive red’s towing and pro towing tow trucks as well as AAA black trucks

    This mother f***** don’t even have the decency to pay living wage to his employees while he sucks the big f****** money straw from the city him and marrying and got the same addiction money money money f*** it if we get it legally or not

    And guess what Mr Hilliard thinks he has protection of the police which he does cuz he can steal out of any vehicle that he impounds or toes to his impound yard and then the city says well we are indemnify ourselves of any damages of that from your vehicles do you see the f****** f***** up stink of the f****** rotten corrupt smell coming off of that f****** place yeah that’s not Bob’s cologne

    And then he’s got the cops over there wheeling and dealing vehicles that they’ve never legally taken with due process the largest auto theft ring in town Missoula City Police department headed up by Annie norby and what five volunteers that don’t even have legal authority to write a warning tag on your car

    There’s nothing righteous about this city unless you’re in that tight little circle of them f***** up oligarchs

    And oh God look at me as an example of a person who stands right in their face and gives him the big fat f*** you you’re not going to treat me like this

    Yet here they go because no one in the state no one in the city and no one in the county will f****** stop them you know you laugh at me and call me a f****** monkey but I’ll tell you something I never was f****** houseless I f****** have friends in this town this city took my property took my income property and made us become houseless and then berated us and slammed us for being houseless my family doesn’t deserve one iota of that b******* and then your little study people were supposed to call us and get our version of how Missoula treats homeless people but my f****** God you don’t want that out there because the truth is on my f****** family side

    You know I lost some ink and the other day and she just step away he’s done and I’ll go live in one of the rental properties that you bought while you were mayor that you developed there John engen I’m saying it out right you’re a thief you developed property while you were mayor of this town and you hit it in llc’s I said it sue my ass for f****** slander jackass let’s do it

    Take your slender ass in court and get the paperwork to tell people I’m a lying piece of s*** go for it big man

  2. amastrovito56 says:

    Gretchen Webb is my choice for Mineral County. She has been a resident for several years and bring EXPERIENCE. . Experience is something needed in this piosition. Her qualifications are impeccable and she doesnt have a dirty past. Anything else continues the good ole boy mentality there. If the citizens want change then you have to be the change in the election process.

  3. Gina R says:

    Totally agree! How about this for transparency August 23th, 2021, an out of state Professional Search and Rescue team locates the image of a body in the Clark Fork River and informs Missoula County Sheriff’s Department. Captain Bill Burt sends them away and takes over with local SAR team to supposedly recover the body. No body is retrieved. The case is then sent immediately back to Mineral County.

    On September 21, 2021, Captain Bill Burt does this interview with KRTV News, Parents of Rebekah Barsotti reflect on daughter’s life at Missoula vigil, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CgMuecNc34 . During this interview Captain Burt says that “they come up empty in the river” and “he’ll continue with land searches if given an indication” and “they are going to do everything they can.” Interesting when he has done this interview after the case was turned back over to the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office.

    The only thing transparent in both these Sheriff’s Offices, is that they serve and protect themselves more than the communities they work for.

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