Missoula, Montana is to Big Sky Country what Austin is to Texas. A liberal anomaly surrounded by a sea of picturesque wilderness and conservative voters.
Knowing that it’s not surprising the city council approved nearly $70,000 for an array of porta potty shelters while slashing the police budget by just shy of $78,000.
Council members reportedly want a cultural shift to take hold in the city’s police department to facilitate more positive outcomes from interactions with law enforcement.
Whatever that means.
Per the Missoulian:
Other councilors also proposed failed amendments to the police department’s budget, including one from Julie Merritt who requested further cutting the department’s training request by an additional 50%. Councilor Heidi West also proposed rejecting the request for ballistic helmets, saying that she understood the need for the helmets but would like a clearer definition from the department on when police are able to use them. Both amendments failed.
Council also heard a new request for $50,000 for seed funding for a homeless navigation center, a program that would help adults who are experiencing homelessness transition to living in permanent housing. Eran Pehan, the city’s director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said navigation centers in places like San Francisco have had a 46% success rate for people exiting those centers into permanent housing.
As some of Missoula’s residents protest police budget cuts, Democrat Kathleen Williams remains conspicuously quiet. Williams ran a competitive race against Republican Greg Gianforte to represent Montana’s at-large seat in the House of Representatives in 2018 and hopes to unseat him this year.