The Politics Of Human Trafficking Should Make Wannabe Senators In Montana Very Nervous

by Travis Mateer

Does one of the men in this picture want to be a US Senator? Perhaps the one gazing longingly at Governor Gianforte’s pen?

If the man with the red tie has a higher political office in mind, he should spend some time wondering what is in the mind of the man standing behind him. The one who looks like he could snap at any moment. The one I think is running a fake safe house for victims of human trafficking.

The politics of human trafficking produces images on social media that makes me sad. Why does the following image make me sad? Because I had such high hopes for the young City Council person who I interviewed for a little documentary about Tax Increment Financing. Maybe they just don’t know?

What don’t they know? I don’t think they know a “safe house” that was purchased 3 years ago with financial help from the Gianforte foundation has yet to serve ONE victim of human trafficking. But don’t take MY word for it, take Detective Guy Baker’s word, specifically the words he spoke on February 15th, 2023, before the Public Safety, Health and Operations Committee. Before I get to the video clip, here’s a screen-shot from the agenda:

And here’s the video clip from the meeting that clearly indicates the “safe” house, according to Detective Guy Baker, is not ready to serve victims of human trafficking yet. But when they do he thinks it could be an ALL AGES kind of “safe” house.

I have some other fantastic clips from this meeting I’ll be featuring on this week’s review of local headlines, which you can expect to see posted at 8am on Sunday.

Now, here’s a thought experiment. Let’s say the LifeGuard Group is NOT on the up and up. How embarrassing would that be? And I’m not just talking about an embarrassment for an Attorney General /Senator wannabe, but for the entire state of Montana, because that is how far this charade has gone.

To exemplify this, here’s a screen-shot of a government website promoting the LifeGuard Group and the hilarious Sentinel Project, an effort to create a beer truck army to deploy against the scourge of human trafficking.

When you watch the video, like I have done several times, you will start understanding how BAD of a situation it would be if the LifeGuard Group turned out to be a bad joke run by an unstable person who has successfully leveraged what he knows about the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office in order to entrench himself deep into the state bureaucracy like a bed bug burrowing into a wood-framed bed.

Here’s an image from the video of Brian Lockerby promoting the Sentinel Project. It’s important to note that the Division of Criminal Investigation is the state agency responsible for investigating things like officer-involved shootings.

If you think an organization that wouldn’t know “best practices” in this field of working with victims if it slapped them in the face is just a problem for Montanans, you clearly didn’t listen to Detective Guy Baker closely enough in the clip above, so let me spell it out with a direct quote from Baker (emphasis mine):

The LifeGuard Group has already got inquiries from out of state–multiple inquiries–looking for beds to put females in, so this will be good that we have this.

Yes, Detective Guy Baker, it really would be good if we had a LEGITIMATE safe house for victims of human trafficking located in the Bitterroot, since the available resources in Montana are so pathetically (strategically?) minimal. The question is, is the LifeGuard Group a legitimate organization capable of actually helping this population?

My final exhibit for this post is a story I found on Facebook, and it opens like this:

On May 14, 2019 LifeGuard Group founders Lowell and Tami Hochhalter encountered a woman asking for a dollar outside a coffee shop in Missoula, and immediately knew what they had to do. Read the full story from Lowell himself…

Are you ready for this, readers? Or might it be more palatable to be a LISTENER to this story? Perhaps with some commentary from myself and someone who knows a thing or two about best practices when it comes to working with people with a history of sexual trauma?

Your unarticulated request is my demand!

I wonder if the story above is the kind of thing that convinced then-Sheriff, T.J. McDermott, to bring on Lowell Hochhalter as chaplain for the Sheriff’s Office FAMILY. One can only wonder.

I’m sure some day the “safe” Lifehouse at Crooked Tree Ranch will welcome its first victim of human trafficking. IF that day ever comes, you will definitely read about it here.

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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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