Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst has been spending the last part of 2017 tallying up the number of cases she and her staff have handled in the past year.

“It looks like we’ve filed a total number of 1,767 new cases in 2017,” Pabst began. “That’s slightly down from our total number last year, but interestingly, our felony numbers are considerably higher than last year. So, we’re higher in felonies and lower in misdemeanors. We filed 65 more felonies this year than last year.”

Pabst said there was a disturbing increase in other crimes, as well.

“We filed twice as many petitions for juvenile delinquents than we did last year, so we’ve seen a real rise in crime committed by our young people, and when you put it all together, it looks like every 12 hours someone in Missoula County commits a felony. Also, when it comes to dependency and neglect cases we’ve hit record levels. We’ve hit unprecedented numbers of child protective and child custody cases. It’s a disappointing trend that we don’t see slowing down anytime soon.”

On a positive note, Pabst said her office’s Special Victims Unit continues to be the pacesetter for the rest of the state.

“I’m really proud of our Special Victims Unit,” she said. “We’ve grown it from just one person to where now we have four very talented litigators that make up the prosecuting part of the SVU, but we also have a dedicated paralegal, and investigator and some crime victim witness coordinators. We’ve figuratively and literally written the book on best practices in prosecutions of sexual assault cases, and we’re really proud of that work.”

Pabst said looking ahead, her office will continue to see a rise in drug crimes and the subsequent social repercussions.

“In 2017 we’ve seen a huge influx of involuntary commitments, they are extremely high,” she said. “One surprising thing I noted was that over one-third of the folks where we do an involuntary commitment are homeless. It’s really frightening considering the cuts that we’ve seen for case management, which in my opinion is one of the key things that will keep someone from becoming homeless, so we’re really worried about the mentally ill population and doing what we can to work with our partners in that regard.”

Pabst has launched her campaign for a second four year term as Missoula County Attorney. She appears every Friday on the KGVO Talk Back show to provide a weekly crime report.

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