In Kalispell, Tester Meets with Law Enforcement Officials to Talk Public Safety, Fentanyl Prevention, and Border Security Efforts

During roundtable discussion, Senator heard directly from Flathead law enforcement how to best support their needs to keep Montana safe

Continuing his longstanding efforts to support Montana law enforcement and ensure they have the resources needed to keep communities safe, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today held a roundtable discussion with Flathead law enforcement officials in Kalispell to discuss crime prevention, fentanyl trafficking, and border security efforts.

“Montana law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe, and they deserve our gratitude and support,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m meeting directly with Flathead police officers and sheriffs to talk about the resources they need to combat crime, get fentanyl and deadly drugs off our streets, and keep Montana families safe. I will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Montana law enforcement and take their feedback with me back to the Senate to ensure they have the manpower, funding, and policies in place to get the job done.”  

Tester was joined at the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department by:

  • Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino
  • Lincoln County Sheriff Darren Short
  • Kalispell Police Chief Jordan Venizio
  • Columbia Falls Police Chief Clint Peters
  • Whitefish Police Deputy Chief Kevin Conway

During the roundtable, Columbia Falls Police Chief Clint Peters brought up ongoing efforts to curb fentanyl smuggling, saying: “There’s certain specific chemicals that go into making fentanyl that are not made in the United States. They’re not coming from the United States. They’re likely coming from China or other foreign countries.”

Tester responded by highlighting the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, his bipartisan bill to impose economic sanctions on those trafficking fentanyl and declare fentanyl a national emergency: “There is actually a bill that passed the Senate that’s being held up in House right now. For the [second] time. It’ll put some pretty serious sanctions on China for the precursor elements, because that’s where they’re coming from. They’re not coming from anywhere else, they’re coming from China. If we could get that done, that’s not going to solve the problem, but I think would help. Because it hits them in the wallet.”

Chief Peters continued by discussing the efforts at the southern border that can crack down on the cartels that are trafficking fentanyl across the border: “It always gets down to the cartels. I mean, we know that that’s where it’s coming from. And we can only get so far. We can get to the Mexican border, but we’re not going beyond. So we have a very small piece of everything that’s coming together. But it’s nice to know that the federal government is trying to do what we’re trying to.”

Tester agreed, pointing to technology that can make the difference on the southern border: “That’s right. And look, I mean, like I said with the other piece of legislation, we’ve got to get that through. I think it would have made an absolute noticeable difference on what you guys are dealing with. Some of the stuff comes through backpacks, and most is going through cars and satellites. There’s just no doubt about it. And you start X-raying this stuff, and you start catching the people that are doing it. It can make a difference.”

Tester has led the charge to secure the southern border and stop the deadly flow of fentanyl that is wreaking havoc on Montana. Tester voted to secure the southern border in February – but politicians in Congress blocked the bipartisan border security legislation.

Last month, as part of his continued efforts to secure America’s borders and combat the deadly flow of fentanyl into Montana, Senator Tester successfully included his bipartisan Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act as part of a critical national security package that passed the U.S. Senate. His bipartisan legislation would impose economic sanctions on those engaged in the international trafficking of illicit fentanyl, precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl, or other related opioids, and declare international trafficking of fentanyl as a national emergency. Tester has also called on Congress to fully fund technology used to scan for fentanyl and other contraband at the southern border as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 Homeland Security Appropriations bill after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Troy Miller said that scanners used to spot smuggled fentanyl at the southern border are currently sitting unused in warehouses without the funding needed to install them.

Last week through his role as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester secured significant wins for Montana’s law enforcement community in the annual government funding bill including: funding to hire and equip new officers and language instructing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allocate the maximum amount of resources to support efforts to combat fentanyl.