Local law enforcement agencies did some spring cleaning and rounded up dozens of violent offenders in Gallatin and Park counties earlier this month.

Law enforcement agencies resolved 52 cases of violent offenses as part of the Montana Violent Offender Task Force. The crackdown, called operation spring sweep, involved the Bozeman and Belgrade police departments, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service, along with other law enforcement agencies.

At the Gallatin County jail Friday, Steve Crawford, Bozeman police chief, said 26 people were arrested on warrants, five were arrested on new charges and three suspects were dead. The other cases were referred to other states because the suspects had left Montana, Crawford said.

He described the operation as a big deal.

“That makes an impact when you’re able to take that number of suspects off the street, and the ripple effect that that has, that kind of chilling effect on bad behavior, is definitely a positive for the community,” Crawford said.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin said the county is safe but still has some bad people living here.

“It was great to work together and get some of those folks rounded up,” Gootkin said.

Rod Ostermiller, U.S. Marshal chief deputy, said the area could see a difference in crime and recidivism when law enforcement works together and shares information.

“We’re much more efficient when we work together — that benefits the taxpayer, it saves the taxpayers money,” Ostermiller said.

The task force created a list of about 80 cases of people with warrants for violent charges that could be connected to robberies, assaults, domestic violence and drug violations. The task force said it used different categories to qualify suspects, but all involved violence.

The Montana violent offender task force was created in 2005 to arrest people wanted for violent offenses. Other agencies that participated in operation spring sweep are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Billings and Livingston police departments; Yellowstone, Park and Stillwater County sheriff’s offices; the Missouri River Drug Task Force; and the Montana Department of Corrections.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.


Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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