The Ravalli County Sheriff Department (RCSO) is currently carrying Taser weapons. The County is also a defendant in Federal Court for 12 alleged counts relating to a civil rights claim. Just recently, a county resident is bringing a case for flooding in the right of way of a Bitterroot River bridge. When liabilities like these mount, the insurance premium we pay as assessed by the Montana Association of Counties increases. This means higher tax assessments.
When asked when and how the buck stops with The Commission, Greg Chilcott explained what was not their responsibility. Can we get a straight answer out of our public servants? These are the same people who sent a scathing letter to the State DNRC regarding the 38 “alleged” violations of floodplain rules in Ravalli County .
It is their responsibility to enforce these provisions, so we may be protected from flood events, and have the ability to obtain loans for many properties that dip below the 100 yr. floodplain elevation. Do we need our own commissioners blocking potential real estate transactions due to an inability to take responsibility for their well paid responsibilities?
While campaigning for Mayor, a family told me of an event where a family rushed a young girl to the hospital by private vehicle due to multiple injuries at the scene. While it is unfortunate the girl suffered permanent injuries, the driver of the vehicle was reportedly tasered by a Ravalli County Deputy at the hospital. In an emergent situation, it is evident that the law enforcement did not assess the situation appropriately? Why are these officers carrying other lethal weapons in a locale were lethal situations are not around every corner? A Taser carries up to 50, 000 volts, and has been fatal in many situations. In the words of a blogger on Digg.com: “Cops should understand that Tasers are lethal weapons in quite a few circumstances and should not be used as a ‘Shut up, its my turn to talk’ tool.”
We have seen an officer in Atlanta who detained a Black man in a hospital parking lot as his mother passed away just inside. While the man could have been cited for running a stop sign, for excessive speed, a reasonable Judge has the ability to dismiss the case with cause under the circumstances. A Ravalli County deputy may not have been trained for 4 hours and “ridden the lightning” for 5 seconds as most trained officers on Tasers have experienced. We simply add more liability to an already dangerous mix in Ravalli County .
We as residents are presented with “local terror” as we contact the law enforcement and judicial system in Ravalli County . This incident was hidden, as are many others to feed the fuel into the system that employs many people in our area. We need not live in fear, nor should we pay for the ineptitude of our public officials, or our poorly trained law enforcement who are more attuned to walking tall with their tazer and sidearm, then thinking though a situation to actually help a voter, taxpayer, and family who pays their salary. `
Law enforcement and adulthood involve thinking through a situation, if possible to protect the officer’s safety, and to best serve the community. This incident reminds us of a norm in Ravalli County ; pinning a crime on the victim: to quiet them, or to teach them a lesson for calling out the law enforcement. Any human being has a voice, a conscience (except sociopaths) and a moral compass. At the time of this writing, I am wondering how an expensive lethal weapon should be added to a force which has demonstrated a problem with trust.
When law enforcement steal from their own department, they have no respect for it. With demonstrated lack of sound decisions, why are these deputies carrying more liability for Ravalli County on their holsters?
This scenario came up as I mentioned the legal duty as Mayor to supervise the police department (MCA 7-32-4103). The last two Mayors of Hamilton have not upheld this duty. When a Doctor is spotlighted on their property, this is not supervision. Since the Ravalli County Commission, or Sheriff refuse to supervise (or take responsibility) for nearly anything, it is up to us to demand better in the voting booth. The city elections are in the fall 2009, county election in 2010.
The public does not need justifications, or false claims on how wonderful its law enforcement is protecting them. We hear and see the truth. It is time Tasers to be removed from service in Ravalli County : for public safety, and for real and ever present liability. How do we pay for these weapons if the budget is constrained? We, as taxpayers pay for your mistakes. How many does Ravalli County need?
Candidate for Mayor
City of Hamilton, Montana