BUTTE — Butte police received fewer calls for services in 2022 than in 2021 but made more arrests in 2022.
Police went on 29,050 calls for service in 2022, which is about 1,100 fewer calls in 2021.
Police made 1,772 arrests in 2022, which is up 163 arrests from 2021.
“One hundred sixty-three arrests that’s a pretty significant increase. It’s surprising to me that the call volume is down because I would have believed it was up, but the arrests were up,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.
Police speculate that last year’s spike in fentanyl use, as well as the ongoing meth problem, may be a factor in increased crime in Butte.
“People funding their habits and their addiction with misdemeanor crimes of shoplifting, theft, and even felonies like burglary and even, potentially robbery,” said Lester.
Community groups say tackling the opioid problem will be a major goal this year.
“It’s not something new to the States, it’s been an issue even before 2017, but it’s just really hitting Montana as hard as it is in 2022. We also will continue with media campaigns; we had several media campaigns last year that we did,” said Tami Martin of Butte Cares.
Increasing manpower at the police department and jail will be a priority in the new year.
“We lost a lot of experienced officers, we lost a lot of experienced detention officers, we continue to deal with dispatch issues. And those people who leave, they’re not easy to replace, it’s not easy to replace that kind of experience,” said Lester.