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Learn more about the current state of public safety and the effects of the upcoming Public Safety Levy.
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Town Hall FAQs
Will any of this go to primary prevention or community services to reduce crime, drug use, homelessness, etc.?
Within the Public Safety Mill Levy framework, the Great Falls Police Department has requested a Crisis Intervention Team officer to work collaboratively with the local mental health professionals. The CIT officer’s function would be responding to calls for service involving community members who are either in crisis or have mental health related challenges. The levy also includes a proposal for Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention. The position will assist the Chief of Prevention with life safety and code enforcement administration. The position will also assist with plan review when a remodel or new permits are proposed for multi-family housing, commercial, and industry construction. The purpose of the Fire Prevention division is to assure buildings are in compliance with modern life safety systems to protect the safety and lives of its tenants.
Where are we at in proactive enforcement in crimes like speeding and assault in public areas? Will the levy help?
The Great Falls Police Department conducted a three month study during late 2022 to determine the undedicated time patrol officers had during their shift. The data indicated that on average, patrol officers had one hour of undedicated time during a 10 hour 40 minute shift for proactive patrol. The hour of undedicated time was not continuous. Consequently, with an average staffing level of five officers per squad, proactive patrol is significantly reduced. The addition of officers to fully staff all six squads, plus the Directed Enforcement Team, would allow additional proactive patrol rather than reactive response to calls for service.
What is the probability of staffing all of the positions that the levy will fund?
GFFR’s goal is to complete the hiring process of all 33 personnel within one year. This ambitious goal will be highly dependent on finding qualified candidates. The Great Falls Police Department and 911 Center face similar challenges as the private sector when recruiting employees who are qualified for positions in the department. Due to the necessity for extensive background investigations on applicants and availability of open slots at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, hiring officers and dispatchers can be a time intensive process. In addition, the Great Falls Police Department seeks qualified applicants and will not lower the hiring standards. The Prosecutor’s Office faces similar recruiting challenges due to the limited number of attorneys entering the workforce and the high demand for their services in the private sector.
How are the agencies going to benefit and improve community coordination in the public safety arena?
The proposed mill levy and bond will allow GFFR to add personnel and a fire station to the current response posture of the City. The personnel will allow GFFR to add additional fire engines to the department’s response capability. In turn, added resources provide more fire/medical services to handle increasing call volumes and longer response times.
GFFR began addressing community coordination regarding public safety by offering the citizens of Great Falls options to help public safety agencies during times of emergency. The first opportunity was Code Red. Code Red allows citizens to be contacted in times of emergencies and provides critical information to citizens like evacuation notices and shelter in place declarations. Another option offered by GFFR is Community Connect. Community Connect allows citizens to register online with GFFR to provide critical information to first responders during an emergency. Information for first responders includes mobility data, door codes, and notification information to reach homeowners when GFFR is dispatched to their residence, and no one is home.
If approved by the voters, the mill levy will allow the Great Falls Police Department and 911 Center to add patrol officers, investigators, support staff, and 911 dispatchers. The additional resources will provide an increased level of service to the community. The levy request also includes the cost for associated equipment and training for new personnel. The Great Falls Police Department currently coordinates training and response with the Great Falls Fire Rescue, other allied law enforcement agencies and works closely with the City Attorney’s Office and Municipal Court. Members of the GFPD are actively involved in various boards and committees, such as the Veteran’s Treatment Court, Drug Treatment Court, and Mental Health Treatment Court. GFPD’s collaboration with these community stakeholders is helpful when tackling crime prevention and criminal behaviors. Additional staffing will allow the prosecutor’s office to provide more effective victim services and follow-up, particularly with respect to Partner Family Member Assaults (PFMA) and property crime cases.
With Safety in the Falls as our theme, what outcomes as far as mortality can be targeted and changed?
The primary mission is to arrive at an emergency in a timely manner to make an impactful difference in citizens’ lives and health. By building additional fire stations and adding personnel, GFFR can reduce the amount of time it takes to arrive on an emergency scene and initiate lifesaving interventions. This can be in the form of advanced life support procedures rendered by GFFR paramedics to rescuing families from burning buildings.