Missoula Weekly Crime Report: Mental Health Issues and Lack of Services
The Missoula County Attorney’s Office filed 12 new felony complaints this week. On Friday, Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings appeared on KGVO’s Talk Back show and he provided his report.
“We had two violent crimes and that is a little bit lower than our average for the last few months, so that is nice to see,” Jennings said. “We had two endangerment crimes. Those usually involve driving behavior, drinking and driving, or something more than a DUI where other people are put at risk. We had three property crimes. Those are usually pretty self-explanatory, but they run a whole gambit between embezzlement, thefts, and sometimes even burglaries. We had two drug crimes and three administrative crimes.”
According to Jennings, drugs continue to be a common theme in most criminal behavior that they see in his office and in Missoula County.
At the beginning of this week, 38-year-old Jared Kuntz was sentenced to 30 years in the Montana State Hospital.
“This was the person that attacked four individuals on the M trail in April of 2020,” Jennings said. “He got a very significant sentence and we are happy that justice was served. Hopefully there can be some closure to those victims and they can move on with their lives to the degree that they can, even though they are struggling still with physical, mental, and emotional injuries.”
Jennings said he brought up Kuntz because there were some really significant mental health issues in that case and that is starting to become a common theme.
“Some of the really serious events that we have had in our community have been caused by mental health,” Jennings said. “This is a difficult topic because mental health struggles can happen to any of us. They can be depression in ourselves or our loved ones, PTSD of soldiers returning from war, or a slip of our mind as we age. They can be things that aren’t always our fault. We have a lot of compassion and sympathy for people that are struggling with mental illness because, like I said, it really could be something that any of us have to deal with in our lives.”
Jennings said one of the biggest issues is a lack of services in our community for those who may be struggling with mental illness.
“We are seeing warning signs and times that people need some help,” Jennings said. “We aren’t necessarily finding ways that they can get that help before something bad happens. I don’t mean to say that some of these events aren’t also their fault. We also see drug use combined with mental illness. We sometimes see people taking deliberate actions that aren’t always related to mental illness, but sometimes maybe it is impacting what they are understanding about going on with the system.”
The Missoula County Attorney’s Office does have a dedicated mental health attorney. Jennings’ full report can be found below: