Missoula Homicides Are Down But Drug Crimes Skyrocketed in 2022
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - There is both good news and bad news in the preliminary annual crime report from Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst.
The good news is that the number of homicides in 2022 was far fewer than those reported in 2021.
Five Homicides were Charged in Missoula County in 2022
“We filed five new homicide cases, only one of which was a deliberate homicide in 2022,” began Pabst. “That, of course, was the Bernard case in which he allegedly stabbed his girlfriend many times causing her death, and then called law enforcement substantially later than the time of death was determined. Additionally, we charged three negligent homicide cases and then one careless resulting in death. But all in all, that was about half of what we filed the year previously.”
Both Felonies and Misdemeanor Crimes were Up
Pabst said felony crimes increased dramatically in 2022.
“Our felonies are way up,” she said. “We charged 787 felonies in the last 12 months, which is 64 more than we did in 2021. Our misdemeanors are up as well. There were 6,996, that’s almost 7,000 misdemeanors filed into Justice Court, which is also quite a bit higher than the year before.”
Comparing misdemeanors to felonies, Pabst provided her perspective.
“That number isn't quite as significant as the felony marker because those numbers do tend to fluctuate depending on law enforcement personnel availability and things like that,” she said. “Our juvenile delinquent filings are down by 10. We only charged 50 of those in 2022 which is down from the more than 60 the year before.”
Most Worrisome is the Dramatic Increase in Drug Crimes
What alarms Pabst more than any other statistic from 2022 is the massive increase in drug crimes in Missoula, especially with drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl.
“Anecdotally, I can tell you that they're (drug crimes) are through the roof,” she said. “We are seeing not just more fentanyl possession cases and fentanyl use cases but distribution cases as well. In addition, the number of overdose deaths and overdose hospitalizations is alarming.”
Pabst said she will have the hard numbers in the next few weeks, but wanted to let the public know the general criminal trends for 2022 in the Missoula community.