HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – Governor Greg Gianforte has announced the state is investing more than $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds into an effort to improve public safety and increase economic stability in Yellowstone County.
$1.5 million will be provided for the Office of State Public Defender for staff to address cases. $815,000 will go towards the Montana Department of Justice hiring criminal agents to help address drug and violent crime.
The investments were recommended by the Economic Transformation and Stabilization, and Workforce Development Advisory Commission
Funds will be dispersed over the next three years.
According to Project Safe Neighborhoods data from the Billings Police Department, Partner or family member assault charges increased by 48% from 2019 to 2020, and strangulation charges increased 35% from 2019 to 2020.
Yellowstone County recently dedicated $1 million of its ARPA Local Financial Recovery funds over the next three years to hire two violent crime prosecutors focused on violent felony domestic and drug related crimes and two paralegals tasked with instituting and expediting the processing of criminal charges.
The City of Billings has also dedicated $1 million to fund law enforcement and prosecution services over the next three years.