Who Is Running Multi-Jurisdictional Trainings In Missoula And Would A Local Public Information Officer Be Kept In The Dark About It?

by Travis Mateer

My interest in multi-jurisdictional trainings is only increasing after the Public Information Officer for the Missoula POLICE department responded to my email inquiry regarding the SWAT incident on August 31st, an incident I was told by a Red Lion staff member was, in fact, a training.

Here’s the response:

So far, only the police PIO has responded. Jeannette Smith, who acts in a similar role for the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, has not responded to my email as of this writing.

Since the implication Lydia Arnold is making is that I was given a false story by the Red Lion staff, I returned to the scene of the training unfounded incident to see what additional information I could glean.

The person I spoke with this time seemed much more prepared (read: reluctant) to discuss what happened, but when I said IF there was a training, that maybe next time the guests could benefit from a heads up, since flash grenades were apparently used, she responded with “they didn’t tell us they were going to use flash bangs”.

The reason I used the word trainings (plural) in the title of this post is because I heard, through the grape vine, that another training, which included law enforcement, occurred just a few months back at, or around, the Rocky Mountain Eye Center (RMEC)

To confirm this I called RMEC, left a message with HR, and heard back later that same day. The woman I spoke with acknowledged a multi-jurisdictional training did indeed occur, and her main contact was out-of-state. What agency, I asked? The FBI, I was told.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken an interest in how jurisdictions prepare to respond to a crisis. On June 2nd, 2021, I wrote about the strange use of the Incident Command Team to respond to homelessness. The following month, after speaking with Adriane Beck, I wrote another post to clarify the limited scope of what was done, during that time period, to select an outdoor homeless site for the official encampment that turned into today’s private-security-run shit show.

Having recalled this earlier interest of mine, I called up the Office of Emergency Management and spoke with Nick Holloway after leaving a message with Adriane Beck. Holloway hadn’t heard anything about the West Broadway incident being a training, but said I should reach out to the Sheriff’s Office. I said I had, but hadn’t heard back.

If Lydia Arnold is correct, and Red Lion staff are wrong, that still doesn’t bode well for how law enforcement got suckered into a massive response to an “unfounded” threat. Kind of like that time a Missoula patrol cruiser had its window shatter and the immediate assumption by the officer was that he was being shot at. From the link:

The officer was traveling northbound on the 400 block of Woody Street around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday when he reported the back window of his patrol car had been shot out, Welsh told reporters at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The officer immediately sought cover and prepared to counter the suspected shooter.

“He was not able to see anybody in the immediate vicinity or anyone who presented a threat to him,” Welsh said.

Law enforcement flooded into the area and snipers took to the rooftops. City and county buildings went on lockdown, as did Providence St. Patrick Hospital two blocks away. Welsh said police began interviewing witnesses and scanning the area for evidence, including surveillance footage that may have captured the incident, as the area remained on lockdown. Coordinating the investigation, as well as downtown morning traffic, made the search for evidence particularly complicated, Welsh said.

Was a suspect located? No. Was a bullet located? No. And the reason is simple: no one was shooting at law enforcement that day. But just to be on the “safe” side, a lot of different agencies got involved.

Here’s how our recently departed Mayor described the incident from his “command post”:

In a statement late Wednesday, Missoula Mayor Engen said assisting law enforcement agencies included Missoula County, the Montana Highway Patrol, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the FBI. Missoula Emergency Services was also on hand.

“From my view in the command post, our law enforcement professionals in the Missoula Police Department acted swiftly, appropriately and professionally to ensure the safety of our employees and of the larger community,” Engen said in the statement. “Fortunately, no one was physically injured, and that’s a remarkable outcome in itself.”

At least with the no-bullet window shattering, we, the public, got some nice pictures to look at. With the “officer involved shooting” that happened on August 27th, there has been virtually nothing said by anyone after the sketchy first reports. Sure, there was some pretty strong chokecherry shade thrown out by the Missoulian editorial board, but that was on September 2nd. It’s now September 7th, and as far as I can tell, not even the name of the deceased has been released.

This morning I’m going to follow up on my promise to give City Council a personal update on the alleged training that’s officially not a training, but maybe a red flag to have every badge involved tested for illegal substances, and I’m not even taking about meth.

And, since we’re talking about red flags, this link I clicked on from a Reddit thread comes to mind:

I’m just throwing out some data points, people. And asking some questions. And getting some really unsatisfying responses.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

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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