By Ross Markman
Thanks to a grant from the Montana Board of Crime Control, a team representing 11 law enforcement departments will continue to operate.
Spearheaded by the Havre Police Department, the Tri-Agency Task Force will receive $171,431 in federal funds toward its total budget of $243,250. The remaining $71,819 will come by way of local matches, with the Havre police and Hill County Sheriff's Office each contributing one-third. The other participating departments will combine to pay the rest.
In addition to Havre police and Hill County sheriff, the TATF works for police in Harlem, Chinook, Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, and Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, as well as sheriff's offices in Blaine, Phillips, Chouteau, Liberty and Judith Basin counties.
Established in 1987, the TATF is a team of three officers one from Havre, one from Hill County and one from a combination of the other agencies focused on drug and drug-related crimes.
The grant money will pay for $3,000 of state-of-the-art equipment and $184,900 in wages and benefits for three agents and two secretaries. The remainder is budgeted for investigation costs.
The funds, according to Havre Assistant Police Chief and TATF project director Mark Stolen, will be received after July 1.
In February, the Havre City Council approved the TATF pursuing the grant. In recent months, the agency added Rocky Boy police to its force.
"The last thing (drug dealers) want to hear is that the drug task force is coming to their area," Stolen said in February. "The drug dealers were just stunned that we could go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction."