Does The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Know What The Word “Deescalate” Means?

by Travis Mateer

Generally speaking, city cops aren’t County Cowboys who like to serve and protect for the cameras. City cops deal with city problems, and those problems come at a much higher frequency, I would think, than what County Cowboys come across. That’s why, in 2019, the Sheriff’s Office in Missoula had the time to participate in Live PD. From the link (emphasis mine):

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office appeared in the first episodes of the new season of “Live PD” on Friday and Saturday on the A&E cable channel, and Montana is abuzz with what they saw.

Undersheriff Rich Marcelli says that they have received 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.

If the Sheriff at the time of this decision, T.J. McDermott, thinks the fact Sheriff resources were spent RESEARCHING this stupid idea before implementing it will insulate his tenure from criticism, I’m here to say THINK AGAIN. And that appears to be precisely what T.J. McDermott is doing by NOT announcing his campaign to run for Mayor later this year. He’s thinking, then thinking again, about figurative skeletons and who has a set of keys to his closet door.

Yes, I’m wondering how loudly McDermott’s favorite chaplain is jingle-jangling while he goes to console the latest takers of a kill shot via the Sheriff’s Office. Don’t worry, the Clinton Market only had to close for one day to presumably clean the blood off the floor.

Want to know what this “inconvenience” was? Well, here’s the scant information provided in press-release-form to local media:

Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputies used lethal force responding to a suicidal male at the Clinton Market on Saturday.

At 11:19 a.m., deputies responded to a suicidal male who was reportedly holding his wife hostage at the Clinton Market, according to a press release. 

“The situation unfortunately evolved to the point where deputies were forced to use lethal force,” the release said.

The release did not indicate who lethal forced was used against, or against how many individuals.

The Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation, and the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office is acting as the coroner. 

There is no further information and no current threat to the public, the release said.

When I saw this “news” article post, I immediately drove to Clinton to take the picture above and the one I’ll share below. These pictures were taken just FIVE HOURS after this incident. Did I see any investigation going on? Nope, it appears the state agency involved in checking out these officer-involved killings had already wrapped that up. The gas pumps were even back to pumping gas for customers as the snow fell like nothing had happened.

Was Live PD filming our County Cowboys when they assisted this man in his plan to have local badges help him die, allegedly? No, sadly, that relationship is on pause as part of a normal rotation for the television program. From the link (emphasis mine):

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is taking a break from appearing on the TV show Live PD as part of a rotation of participating departments.

The decision means that the Sheriff’s Office will not be featured on upcoming episodes.

Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brenda Bassett notes that one of the more special part of the experience with Live PD was to be able to show the public more of what the department does.

I’m starting to understand why the dude shot near the airport and the old woman who was beat to death are situations that continue to be shrouded in mystery–there’s no television cameras around to help our Sheriff’s Office show us, the public, what the fuck they’re up to in the rural parts of our County while city cops see sex offenders disappear into Reserve Street no-go-zones.

Maybe the NEW Sheriff can reassess the death happening BY and AROUND his Sheriff’s Office by taking a fresh look at the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) our CITY officers receive. I even spoke with Theresa Williams, our CIT guru, many months ago specifically about the Sheriff’s Office because she knows my previous work at the homeless shelter and that I’m not full of shit when I say things like there are SERIOUS PROBLEMS inside the Sheriff’s Office.

I went back out to Clinton on Sunday and the store was open again serving customers. The kid I spoke with looked barely old enough to drive. He told me I should talk to the manager, but the manager wasn’t around.

Will more details about what happened come out? I’m sure they will, but the question is when. Maybe in two years there will be a coroner’s inquest. Until then, I’m wondering about some basic things, like was this guy INSIDE when he was shot? Did he have a gun? Was anyone else injured? You know, stuff like that.

I’ll keep digging into this lethal use of force because it’s part of a concerning trend, along with information blackouts for local media. If you’d like to help me do the work of local, independent journalism, you can make a financial donation at my about page.

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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1 Response to Does The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Know What The Word “Deescalate” Means?

  1. How nice, four days after this incident we finally get told the dead person is the suspect. Thanks guys.

    Montana authorities are giving limited information on a ”lethal force” and hostage situation reported at the Clinton Market over the weekend, but confirmed the suspect was the individual killed.

    Deputies responded to what the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office described as a suicidal man holding his wife hostage at the Clinton Market at about 11:19 a.m. on Saturday.

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