In the past few weeks, Missoula has experienced a spike in violent crimes, from the shooting of a police officer, to home invasions, to burglaries, to armed robberies of motels and convenience stores, even a coffee kiosk.

Newly-named Public Information Officer with the Missoula Police Department. Travis Welsh, said on Monday, January 27, that the uptick in violent crime can be traced to an increased sale and use of methamphetamine.

"While I can't comment on any certain case, I can tell you that  we have seen on the street level, what appears to be an increase in the distribution and use of methamphetamine lately," Welsh said. "Whether that applies specifically to any certain incident, I don't know, but typically, with that type of drug, we see a level of violence that may not accompany other types of crimes. That violence may show itself in armed robberies, or property crimes associated with methamphetamine."

Welsh said the very nature of meth can lead to basic physiological and psychological changes in those who use the drug.

"Number one, the drug is terribly toxic," Welsh said. "The ingredients that are used to manufacture it do not have a positive effect on the human body. "Of course, it's also terribly addictive, to the point where people say a friend or a loved one is not the same person, they've become someone totally different, and start to do things they wouldn't normally do because of this addiction. They may also engage in a certain level of violence that is not characteristic of their personality before using the drug. It's so addictive that people will do things that they feel they have to do to get the drug, or have the means to get the drug."

Welsh said there may be new sources of the drug coming into the area.

"It may be that there is a new distribution route coming from sources that may be heading up this way," Walsh said. "There may also be the appearance of a new network, but whatever the cause, we're seeing an upswing in the use of methamphetamine lately."

Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Travis Welsh