Beaverhead County Sheriff

Frank Kluesner (i)
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Question #1Last week we asked about a specific deputy and his inability to access CJIN (Criminal Justice Information Network). You have both been involved in law enforcement for many years. In your words, please explain how CJIN helps a law enforcement officer perform his or her duty. In your view, is CJIN necessary in today’s world of law enforcement? Do you feel CJIN is vital to the safety of today’s law enforcement officers in the field? (This question is not specific to any particular case and thus, should not be dismissed by claiming privilige due to an ongoing investigation. Use up to 500 words)

CJIN is the network maintained by the State of Montana that provides criminal justice information from state and national databases to Law Enforcement Agencies. In formation provided includes criminal histories, fugitive information, missing persons driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations. Quick access to information while working in

the dynamic world of

law enforcement

necessary. Accurate and timely information is a crucial component to effective policing, saving lives, protecting property and conducting investigations.

Individual agencies and users are required to comply with policy and procedures established by Montana statutes and the Montana Department of Justice.

Question #2 - In your view, what are the biggest challenges facing the sheriff of Beaverhead County and how can they be addressed? (use up to 500 words)

There are many challenges that face the Sheriff. One challenge includes staffing a very large county with limited resources to provide public safety needs in very remote areas as well as the more urbanized areas like the Dillon area and high traffic areas like the 85 miles of Interstate 15. Last year I applied for and was awarded a federally funded Community Oriented Policing grant to add another deputy to address this concern. This grant was awarded to only three agencies in Montana. With the help of the Jail Commander we found enough savings in meal and other expenditures to fund a new position in the Detention Center. All without asking to increase taxes. I will continue to work on finding ways to improve recruitment and retention.

An important challenge I see is helping people in this large and isolated county and proving a safe environment. I have instituted several proactive programs to help our residents and in turn reduce crime and the impact on the criminal justice system. I sought grant funding where seven deputies and detention officers have been able to attend a week long Crisis Intervention Team course. The focus is now shifting in the field to de-escalating people who are in crisis due to mental health or substance abuse, and finding solutions to help divert them from jail or prison. We administer testing and provide consequences for the 24/7 jail diversion program. It gives people the opportunity to address substance abuse and find positive ways to cope. I believe that each individual has value and that through resilient individuals we build strong communities. I have recently partnered with the National Child Safety Council to provide publications and materials for children and also at risk adult groups. The community response to this program has been awesome so far. We will begin to use the materials to interact in schools and at events soon.

In the past four years we have worked hard on combating the drug problem, mainly methamphetamine and prescription medication abuse. I am on the board for the SW MT Drug Task Force and actively participate with other drug enforcement entities in the region to combat the illegal drug trade. Crime and drug use seem to be at very low levels in the county, but with the startup of the Keystone Pipeline construction and continued development of the Bakken oil fields, I expect some increased activity. Drug cartels have found a market in the north and mid-west, and we need to remain vigilant.

All we do at the Sheriff’s Office has importance, such as maintaining our communication systems and looking to the future of the detention center. We have added several resources in the past four years such as text to 911, mass notification, enhanced 911, a Dillon area radio/repeater, and we will roll out emergency medical dispatch next month. We also added video conference mental health services and addressed overcrowding in the jail. I want to continue these programs and more.