BILLINGS — Crime, mental health, drug use and human trafficking—all issues were on the table in front of Gov. Greg Gianforte Wednesday, as he met with Billings leaders and law enforcement in a roundtable discussion on public safety.
"We have both a drug and a mental health epidemic," said Gianforte. "The reason I bring this up in relation to crime is law enforcement tells us that 90% of the crime we're seeing is drug or mental health related. Our local jails are filled up with mental health issues."
Weighing in on the discussion were various leaders from Billings social services, the justice system, law enforcement, treatment centers, and more—including Billings Mayor Bill Cole.
The discussion focused especially on human trafficking, as the governor signed a proclamation recognizing National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Jan. 11, as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
"Our state and our legislators are actually making great movement in presenting bills that are going to help us fight human trafficking in Montana," said Britney Higgs, President/Founder of HER Campaign, a Billings nonprofit that provides residential assistance to survivors of human trafficking.
Other bills and proposals from the governor's office addressing public safety issues in Montana were also discussed.