NBC Montana: Tester secures over $244k in grant funding for Montana law enforcement

by NBC Montana Staff

U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured $244,547 in Byrne JAG Grant funding for seven Montana law enforcement agencies.

The funding will be allocated for law enforcement agencies to purchase equipment, hire staff and conduct training.

Funding will be divided and sent to seven cities in Montana to support their local law enforcement agencies.

Senator Jon Tester’s office released the following information:

As a part of his longstanding effort to fully fund and equip Montana law enforcement, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured $244,547 in Byrne JAG Grant funding for seven Montana law enforcement agencies to purchase equipment, hire staff, and conduct training.

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester secured these funds through the 2023 government funding bill. He was the only member of the Montana delegation to support the legislation.

“Keeping Montanans safe will always be my number one priority, and that starts by ensuring that our local law enforcement agencies have the resources they need to do their jobs safely,” said Tester. “Montana’s officers have a dangerous job, but resources like these will ensure that they can do what’s necessary to protect our communities. I’ll always stand up for our brave men and women in law enforcement, and I’ll continue to fight for increased resources for them as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.”

The $244,547 in Byrne JAG funding secured by Tester will be delivered from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the cities and counties below:

  • $72,835 for City of Missoula – The city and county of Missoula will use JAG funds to enhance each agency’s ability to provide efficient public safety services to our community and decrease crime. In addition, this will improve the efficiency of each agency by providing officers with equipment that enhances their effectiveness, recruit and retain a diverse workforce, and improve prosecution of offenders by enhancing evidence-collection and storage.
  • $54,870 for City of Great Falls – The disparate jurisdictions of the Great Falls Police Department and the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office will use JAG funds for technology improvements and equipment. The Great Falls Police Department will use JAG funds to purchase tasers and gas mask voice emitters for detectives and the city tactical unit. The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office will use JAG funds to purchase technology to outfit the mobile command vehicle and provide first responders with GPS units for backcountry search and rescue operations. Additionally, the sheriff’s office will purchase mini ballistic shields and portable breaching tools to outfit deputies patrolling in rural areas of the county.
  • $43,078 for City of Helena – The city of Helena will use JAG funds for salary for the county attorney liaison detective position. This detective serves as a liaison between the police department, the county attorney’s office, and the city prosecutor’s office. This position works to coordinate information and developments from both law enforcement and prosecutors on case investigations. The County of Lewis and Clark Sheriff’s Office will use JAG funds for partial salary for the Missouri River Drug Task Force (MRDTF). This will keep drug officers on the street making an impact on drug possession in the city of Helena, Lewis and Clark County, and the state of Montana. With the help of the JAG program, it offers some financial relief to the agency in reaching the goal of eliminating drugs in our community and state.
  • $23,675 for City of Bozeman – In pursuit of enhanced digital crime investigations, the Bozeman Police Department will use JAG funds to upgrade its computer forensics lab. This proposal aims to modernize equipment, facility, and training, with the primary goal of improving service quality to the community and region. Particular emphasis of this project is to assist in the investigation of human trafficking, and crimes of sexual violence and exploitation, however, digital forensics touch on nearly every type of crime. By revitalizing the lab, the department envisions more efficient evidence handling, faster investigations, and reduced workload for officers and investigators. The proposed grant support will contribute significantly to advancing law enforcement capabilities and ensuring effective justice administration in the digital era.
  • $18,383 for Gallatin County – The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office will use JAG Funds to purchase specialized uniforms for the Gallatin County Special Response Team (SRT). All the uniforms being requested will be used in situations where officer safety and efficacy is paramount. SRT’s primary mission is to save lives. The team responds to critical incidents that typically exceed the capabilities of patrol units such as armed, barricaded suspects, hostage situations, escaped/fleeing felons, active killer events and high-risk warrant service. Our uniform purchase will support on scene security protection and law enforcement in many ways. This request for uniforms is needed to help support the safety and effectiveness of the Gallatin County SRT where inclement weather is a factor.
  • $17,780 for Butte-Silver Bow – The City-County of Butte-Silver Bow will use JAG funds for the purchase of eight desktop/laptop computers necessary for law enforcement personnel to effectively use and access the Department’s new records management system.
  • $13,926 for City of Kalispell – The Kalispell Police Department will use JAG funds to purchase infrared signaling devices for Officers assigned to the regional SWAT Team. Members of this team frequently respond to critical incidents in low-light/no-light situations and must utilize night vision optics to operate safely during these incidents.

Tester is a tireless advocate for increasing funding for police and making sure Montana law enforcement officers have the resources they need to keep communities safe. Earlier this week, Tester also secured $1.1 million in Byrne JAG funding to support drug taskforces as they work to investigate, arrest, and prosecute trafficking of illegal drugs.

He secured more than $1 billion in critical funding for local, state, and federal law enforcement and public safety programs in the 2023 government funding bill. Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to support the bill, which included $770.8 million for Byrne JAG Funding a $96.3 million increase – in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) omnibus appropriations package.

Additionally, Tester has always led the charge to combat drug trafficking and support law enforcement. Earlier this year, Tester introduced his ANTI Drugs Act. This bipartisan legislation would increase resources for three programs – High Intensity Drug Task Forces (HIDTA), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and Operation Stonegarden – that law enforcement rely on to secure the border, stop drug trafficking, and keep communities safe.

You can read more about Tester’s efforts to support law enforcement HERE.