Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County Attorney’s Office filed 20 new criminal complaints this week, which is four more than last week and higher than the weekly average. According to Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings, that number does not reflect some sort of crime wave. 

“Honestly, we’ve had a lot of staffing issues like other businesses had over the last couple of years, but we're fully staffed now,” Jennings said. “We're just really humming along, and we've been at a pretty steady pace for several weeks. 20 felonies is higher than it has been, but I don't want to alarm anybody. We're actually doing really well.” 

Jennings said five of the cases this week were violent crimes. 

“Over the last couple years, we've actually been averaging about 40% of our cases being violent crimes, and over the last few weeks we've been looking more at about 25 to 30%,” Jennings said. “That's actually a really good ratio. Violent crimes are our top priority and something we're trying to put more resources towards. When those numbers are going down, that can be a real relief to us in the community.” 

Jennings also mentioned that many of the individuals charged this week are already involved in the criminal justice system. 

“They are either on probation, they are on parole, they have other pending charges, or they're folks and names that we know from the past,” Jennings said. “Those end up being a higher priority as well because we experience that a small portion of individuals in our community take up a large amount of the resources for criminal justice.  Those end up being a higher priority because it seems like they are not getting it through their heads that they need to stop this behavior.” 

READ MORE: Missoula News - Crime Reports

When that happens, Jennings said they start looking at things like a prison sentence, drug and alcohol treatment, or more vigorous probation or parole. 

“Most of these individuals are involved in drugs and they have other sort of instability issues in their lives,” Jennings said. “We know that if we can work on those things, they probably will stop committing offenses in the future. But we need to get our hands on them first.” 

The Missoula County Attorney’s Office provides a weekly crime report every Friday morning at 9:00 on Talk Back. You can listen to Jennings' full report below: 

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