In a move to bolster public safety and enhance law enforcement efforts across the country, the U.S. government has allocated over $4.4 billion in grant funds, with Montana set to receive nearly $20 million from the allocation.
The funds aim to support state, local and tribal public safety initiatives, as well as community justice activities.
U.S. attorney for the state of Montana, Jesse Laslovich, claimed that the DOJ was taking a proactive approach in tackling crime.
“We are inherently reactive when people commit crimes and are investigated. They’re referred to our office for prosecution for violations of federal law, and we seek to hold them accountable. There’s a big part of the Department of Justice that people don’t realize in the United States where we try to be proactive,” Laslovich stated.
The attorney went on to discuss the $20 million grant, which will be distributed among 35 recipients in Montana for a wide variety of purposes.
The primary recipient will be the Montana Department of Justice. Along with other agencies, the department was carefully selected through an application process.
“These aren’t just random organizations that are receiving the money, but rather, folks who have applied,” Laslovich explained. “Those grants are administered through the Board of Crime Control, and the money is tracked. There’s a record of folks truly trying to help at-risk youth, for example.”
Laslovich stressed the importance of supporting victims of crime, and not just using the resources to prosecute offenders.
“A lot of the time, our focus is on people committing the crime, but we always are thinking about the victim as well,” he said.
Additionally, the funds will be used to support survivors of sexual assault and tribal communities.
However, one of the primary objectives, according to Laslovich, is to channel the funds directly to local law enforcement agencies.
“We’re actually getting money into the hands of local police departments and sheriff’s offices. We have a juvenile justice issue in our state and nation, so we’re trying to get money there to make that effort more effective,” he said.
“Most importantly for me is getting the money out of Washington, D.C. It’s money being distributed throughout the country and here in Montana, and of course, $20 million is nothing to blink at.”
Of the $20 million allocated to Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester played a crucial role in securing $10,550,338 in funding to strengthen law enforcement and provide support for crime victims.
Tester confirmed that the funds will be used to target violent crime, investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases, and develop programs to address violence against women.
“Montana’s local law enforcement agencies, courts and crime victim services work tirelessly every day to ensure our communities are safe and families affected by crime are supported — and it’s on us to make sure they have the tools and resources they need to continue protecting our communities,” Tester said in a press release. “In our continued fight to boost public safety in Montana, I’m proud to have secured this funding to strengthen law enforcement, crack down on violent crime and stand with survivors of sexual assault.”
Senator Tester, a staunch advocate for increasing funding for law enforcement, also secured over $1 billion in critical funding for local, state and federal law enforcement and public safety programs in the 2023 government funding bill.
His efforts focus on supporting taskforces in their efforts to combat drug trafficking.