Sitting on top of Gore Hill at the end of the airport runway sits a building that resembles a cardboard box: the Cascade County Adult Detention Center. Unfortunately, this ugly building is the first thing visitors approaching from the south see when coming to Great Falls. Now, the Sheriff’s office wants to expand the jail complex to include a new “evidence facility”.
Where’s the money coming from?
During the campaign for the recently passed public safety mill levy, most of the proponents’ campaign centered on the need to increase salaries for county attorneys and sheriff’s deputies. But that’s not all. It is bad enough that goofy ideas like Slaughter’s plan to have deputies teaching courses on the constitution and putting armed volunteers in local schools may get some of that public money. But we don’t think many people thought we would be paying for a big garage to house the Sheriff’s search and rescue jet boat and a new grant-funded, $700,000 “command vehicle” (Whatever the hell that is).
Wait, how much are we paying for this?
If you are surprised by this, you are not alone. So was the County Commission. The Electric reported that Undersheriff Scott VanDyken and Public Works Director Les Payne met with the commission to discuss the project on Nov. 21. Commissioner Joe Briggs said the first they saw of the project was in a memo which said it was already going over cost estimates. The proposed ten thousand square foot facility is now estimated to cost almost $2 million. Briggs also said there was no mention of having to build a garage for the vehicle when the commission approved submitting the grant to buy it.
Just last year, the City of Great Falls bought two incident command vehicles. We have to wonder how much of this kind of hardware we need in Great Falls. The county and city should be able to share use of these vehicles rather than spending all of this money to buy and store these expensive vehicles.
Is this money well spent?
Right wing politicians like Jesse Slaughter and City Commissioner Rick Tryon want to focus public fear of violent crime to promote pet projects. In both the recently passed Public Safety Mill Levy and the yet-to-be-proposed City Public Safety Levy, the public is on the hook for significant tax increases. Even worse, while law enforcement is stomping around with military-style equipment and weapons, public services which really could reduce crime (like mental health care, crisis intervention programs and adequate housing) get none of this tax-funded largess.
I’m down for “armed volunteers” at GFPS as long as they are former military background with integrity. The safety of our children and school staff are priority. And I believe we definitely need to expand the jail to accommodate much higher volume of criminals/inmates. So many are running loose committing countless offenses that shouldn’t be free. Also: if the county/city can swing this kind of $$$$ then why aren’t the school staff paid more? McDs/Walmart pay teens more than our school educators. Prioritize the funding situation.
Heather you’re mistaken. These are NOT armed volunteers, They are to be paid a hundred dollars a day. A pretty damn good wage to sit on one’s ass holding a gun. That’s more than subs make, and they actually work. But this will go a long way to help Jesse form his posse. He will have a ready source of militia types to call up and deputize if we ever get invaded by BLM, Antifa, Drag queens, or eco terrorists, all real possibilities in Jesse’s little mind. Constitutionalist sheriffs are known to deputize up to a hundred locals to take on the feds in land disputes, just like Sheriff Glen Palmer did down in Oregon during the refuge takeover.
Btw, ALL legitimate studies indicate that schools are no safer with guns in them. In fact, they’re less safe. Most mass shooters want to die. Hence, they select schools that are armed. Check it out. And Jesse is a nut job as are all constitutionalist sheriffs.! They should all be run out of law enforcement, and in fact they are in most places. Once the public finds out what they’re about, they run these guys off, just like in Oregon with Palmer.
But Slaughter is way out of line sending his people into schools to teach with materials from Hillsdale College, an extreme right wing christofascist organization. But don’t take my word for it. Just google Hillsdale College racism, sexism, misogyny, etc. and see what you get. Hopefully the local school boards will run him off.
I definitely agree with you about teacher pay. I do question your idea about armed volunteers. Just because you’ve had military experience, that doesn’t mean you’ve been trained for the specific case of school safety. Who will train these volunteers? Also, what are we defining as “integrity”? We already know that school SROs disproportionately profile and target black and Native students, and can we be sure that the same won’t happen with armed volunteers? So I have concerns with the oversight of this concept. And in the same vein, perhaps we wouldn’t need to expand the jail if we didn’t promote the school to prison pipeline. I’m not so sure about the hyperbole of “countless offenses”, but certainly think that if we put more of the money into the schools in terms of initiatives to prepare students for lives that are successful and productive to the community, especially when it comes to more disadvantaged and at-risk students, we can avoid a lot of those later problems all together. Regardless of anything else, I can think of about 1,000 ways this money could be better spent than helping Slaughter fulfill his dreams of play acting as Rambo.
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