Beginning this fall, the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office will contract with Three Forks to provide law enforcement for the town.
The Three Forks City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to replace the town's police officers with deputies from the sheriff's office.
“It's absolutely a win-win,” said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin.
The Three Forks Police Department has been staffed with two officers and a chief. But manpower has been down since the chief resigned in February, leaving only two officers on patrol.
As per the five-year contract with Gallatin County, two sheriff's deputies and a sergeant will be assigned to the Three Forks area, which will cover everywhere from Manhattan to Broadwater County, including Clarkston and Logan.
Gallatin County deputies will take over Sept. 1. The cost through the end of the year will be approximately $251,000 and then $300,000 a year for the next four years, Gootkin said.
“Now, no matter what happens, they will always have consistent coverage,” Gootkin said. “They're going to have a level of service that they haven't seen before.”
As for the benefits for the sheriff's office, Gootkin said having three resident deputies on the west end of the county frees up other deputies to concentrate on areas like River Rock subdivision, the unincorporated area southwest of Belgrade and the Amsterdam and Churchill areas.
“It really is a great deal,” Gootkin said.
Gootkin applauded the efforts of the Three Forks City Council during the negotiation process, which began in March.
“Even though we ran into some obstacles,” Gootkin said, “they were just great to work with. …Everyone wanted it to happen, including the public.”
Deputies will be housed in a new substation on Main Street in Three Forks, which will be open at the beginning of October.