Sidney Herald: Maintaining the FBI

Senator visits with law enforcement, local officials during time in Sidney 

After hearing about the importance of having a FBI office in Sidney, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has written a request to the FBI director to stress why a FBI presence is needed. 

The letter included, “Removal of the physical presence of FBI agents from the region is ill-advised and would be detrimental to the ongoing work of law enforcement in the region. Area law enforcement officials have conveyed their concerns over high rates of ongoing crime, despite the ebb and flow of commerce, and shared the critical need for federal law enforcement support in eastern Montana. After conversations with them, it is clear to me that an FBI presence there is critical for our region’s safety and growth. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to maintain your current presence in Sidney.” 

The senator wants the temporary office in Sidney to become a permanent site.

Daines noted that the crime in the Bakken region was 40 percent higher in 2014 than 2009. The Montana Board of Crime Control reports Richland County had 125 times the number of offenses in 2014 compared to 2009. 

During a meeting involving law enforcement with Daines in Sidney on Wednesday, Sidney Mayor Rick Norby said although the economy has slowed down with the oil, the crime rate has not. “This is when we need it [the FBI office] the most.”

Richland County Commissioner Duane Mitchell added that court reports haven’t decreased. He mentioned drug deals and human trafficking. 

“The FBI is definitely a good thing for us,” Mitchell said.

Richland County Sheriff John Dynneson explained the FBI has been very beneficial to the sheriff’s office and Sidney Police Department. 

“They have encouraged our requests to help anyway they can,” Richland County Attorney Mike Weber said. He added the FBI has especially been a help with some bigger cases when “a lot of investigation was needed in a short period of time.”

Dynneson said a drug task force has been established involving local law enforcement, state narcotics enforcement and the FBI.  

“It’s imperative that we work hand in hand with federal agents, so we may have a bigger impact,” Dynneson said.  

FBI special agent Julia Meredith said eastern Montana experiences drugs coming in from California, Oregon and Washington. “Sidney is well positioned to intercept that.” 

She added it helps special agents when they are in the local building and making contacts every day during the week. 

 “I think we’ve been successful to put a huge dent in the trafficking that goes on here,” Meredith said.

Daines thanked those who serve in the police department, sheriff’s office and highway patrol.

“Just know that you have a strong ally and support,” Daines said.