Commissioner Responds To Demands To Defund GFPD

Here is the text of an email which all five members of the Great Falls City Commission received on Monday, demanding we defund the Great Falls Polices Department. This is apparently a form email because I received it from four different individuals.

I read it with a mixture of disbelief and, I admit, a little bit of anger. I have included my response here as well.

“Dear Great Falls City Commissioners,

I am writing to demand that the City Commission adopts a budget that prioritizes community well-being and redirects funding away from the police.

Many Montanans may be tempted to think the unique nature of such a vast, yet sparsely-populated state minimizes the likelihood of police brutality in our small city communities. However, as reported by the Billings Gazette last year, Montana ranked ninth in killings by police per capita. In 2017, the Great Falls Tribune reported Montana police killings reached a total higher than the previous six years. These figures are alarming, but don’t tell the full story. Under Montana Code § 2-6-102 and Article II, Section 10 of the Montana Constitution, police disciplinary records are exempt from disclosure if there is an “individual privacy interest that clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure.” Montana police forces operate within a culture of impunity, and as the members of the communities they are supposed to be protecting, we can’t even begin to grasp the scope of their violence.

We are in the midst of widespread upheaval over the systemic violence of policing. Empty gestures and suggestions of “reform” are inadequate and unacceptable. I am demanding that real change be made to the way this city allocates its resources.

Support for communities in need is necessary now, more than ever. I am demanding that the City Commission meaningfully defund the Great Falls Police Department. I join the calls of those across the country to defund the police. I am demanding a budget that adequately and effectively meets the needs of at-risk Great Falls residents during this trying and uncertain time. I am demanding a budget that supports community wellbeing, rather than empowering the police forces that tear them apart.

As the City Commission, the budget proposal is in your hands. It is your duty to represent your constituents. I am urging you to completely revise the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and to fund the social programs proven to be more effective than policing at promoting community safety and equity. Have the courage to be a leader of the change this city, state, and country desperately needs.

Thank you for your time,”

My response:

Dear ——,

I have received and read your form-letter email and I must say that I am offended. First, because it appears to me that you don’t actually live in Great Falls (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about that), because if you did live here you wouldn’t make ignorant and idiotic statements which suggest our Great Falls Police Department “tears apart” our community or that “we can’t begin to grasp the scope of the violence” our officers are engaged in here. What rubbish!

Secondly, because you seem to think that you can lecture us and “demand” actions when you obviously have no idea what you’re even talking about when it comes to how Great Falls citizens regard our awesome local law enforcement community. We love, respect and appreciate the officers and employees at the GFPD and the Cascade County Sheriffs Office.

No institution is perfect but our community recognizes that the overwhelming majority of our local LE personnel do their jobs responsibly with dedication and fairness. And they do it every day, faithfully and with courage.

So, no I won’t be supporting any half-baked, knee jerk, ridiculous “demands” by you or anyone else to “defund” our police department here.

As a matter of fact I will be fully supporting our local LE enforcement and I will continue to advocate for more resources to help them do their job and keep our streets safe from criminals.

I hope that’s clear enough.

Sincerely,

Commissioner Rick Tryon”

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Rick Tryonhttp://www.ricktryon.com
Rick Tryon is an entrepreneur, a singer-songwriter, and is currently serving a four year term as a Great Falls City Commissioner. Helping Montana become an even greater place to live, play and work is Tryon's passion.

21 COMMENTS

    • It’s extremely funny how everyone Except “Zen” agrees with the response. Instead of opening Their minds to PPL OF COLOR & how They Are Treated & judged right here in Montana… we just push that right under the rug… NOT ACCEPTABLE. Open Your Minds Everyone & Wake Up… Seriously. Bcs you honestly need to ask yourselves.. what’s the First thing that comes to Your mind when you see a person of color?? Have you even had a friend of Color or someone to you home for dinner or just opened a door or actually said hello….. Think about what it’s like to Be That Person or understand where that person came from and grew up.

      • Baloney! I don’t react one way or another when I see anyone other than a white person. If they need a door opened for them, I open it. if they are struggling to carry a box or in need of any other assistance, they get it – and I believe that 99%+ of the citizens of Montana feel the EXACT same way. YOU are an idiot.

  1. Right now the police are like Applebee’s. Trying to do way to many different things and failing at them all. Defunding the police should really be a no brainer. Moving funding away from police so police aren’t stretched so thin doing things that are out of their scope and can have much more negative effects. Police shouldn’t be animal control, mental health checking, dealing with addiction and homelessness, and at this point even dealing with minor traffic violations. Putting funding toward proper animal control, mental health professionals, rehab and social services, and traffic cameras would eliminate the need for someone with deadly weapons escalating situations needlessly.

    As a side note, I did not write any of these emails to Rick, as he would never listen to residents anyway and is a waste to try and get anything through when it comes to this city.

  2. Why are people so damn dumb that they would want to defund law enforcement by removing dedicated law enforcement employees who protect us and make our communities a great place to live and raise our families. I have a son who is a detective with a sheriffs department in Montana and because of his and his departments professionalism I sleep at night without worrying that something bad will happen to my family or my neighbors.
    Keep up the good work Rick and I feel for you having to put up with comments from people like “Pete”….

  3. “Defunding” is not meant to just allow a free-for-all mentality but direct moneys to entities that are specific to different parts of what the LE “unbrella” currently covers – homelessness, mental health & traffic (as Pete noted above)
    Before we change where the money goes, we need to define what LE should be doing & how that should look. It will take time to get it all figured out.
    The form letter seems to be the “learning” people have done over the past few days/weeks. I hope instead of just dismissing the idea, look at the bigger picture. We want peace. We need to do the work to get there.
    Over the past 100yrs, there have been several chances for White people to implement change. There are studies from riots of the past with recommendations that have been ignored. Over and over. NOW it our chance to get it right.
    Start with acknowledging that we need to start with our selves. Open your mind & eyes. Start taking action to change how BIPOC are treated.
    Even here in Great Falls.
    We can do this.

  4. Everyone in Great Falls knows that there are always ways to improve our community services and the methods implemented. Our law enforcement leadership would be the first to tell us how that is an ongoing part of the job.
    To ‘demand’ changes to a system you don’t know, from leaders that you don’t know, trust or support, is a short-sighted attempt to cause a problem rather than solve one that doesn’t exist! Jk
    Rick’s answer is right on target, and I congratulate this city and county, on the quality of personnel and leadership in place in the law enforcement ranks , and the outstanding job they do!
    In full support…

  5. Thanks, Commissioner Tryon, for the great response to this short-sighted, vague and peurile demand, with no reasonable substitution offered.

    Sadly, Great Falls, with approval of the City Commission, HAS been defunding our police and fire departments over the past few years…while funding truly non-essential pork projects, and devising ways to pass city ordinances allowing tax hikes at will – but never for actual public safety budgets.
    JMHO

  6. Thank you, Commissioner Tyron for your response to the letter received. We are proud of our Police Department and do not want to see it defunded allowing our city to devolve into lawlessness. Social programs are fine, but are not equipped/trained to deal with the criminal element which every city/community has unfortunately. Good and evil exist in every community and without means to police its citizens, evil has a tendency to show it’s ugly head.

  7. Great Falls does an abysmal job of providing mental health services to it’s needy residents. Defunding the GFPD and putting the money into community services would be a good idea. Tryon should get off his soapbox and listen to the reasonable requests of the other side regardless of where they came from.

  8. Absolutely right on Rick. I agree with you 100%. Law enforcement is ordained of God to keep the peace. Only when government goes contrary to the WORD OF GOD are we to intervene PEACEFULLY .. THE GFPD AND STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT HAVE MY FULL SUPPORT…MAY GOD BLESS AND DIRECT. THANK YOU RICK FOR YOUR STAND ON OUR STATE FRONT LINE SOLDIERS AND MAY GOD PROTECT AND GUIDE THEM!!

  9. Here are a few questions for those who would think defunding police depts is a good idea, When your mentally impaired neighbor tries to break into your house and take one of your kids, who ya gonna call? Ghost busters? You won’t be able to defend your child with a gun because, well only the govt controlled army should have guns right? Or when you are nearly run over by an impaired driver who may or may not be armed, who ya gonna call? Social services? And who is going to stop that driver from killing your friends and neighbours with his weapon? You? And when you see your anger filled neighbor cruelly beating his child you going to stop him, knowIng that he obviously has an anger problem and is just as likely to hit you as he is to hit his kid? These things are happening every day! And our brave and selfless police officers are doing things that you and I are not trained do to insure our safety. I do not deny that racism is a problem in America. It breaks my heart and makes me very angry that that young man was murdered by some bad cops who absolutely deserve to go to prison. But I totally believe that defunding police departments will only make the problem worse. And by the way, I have worked with, socialized with and have made friends with black people and native Americans. They are just like white people, they want to be loved and respected for who they are. And that is exactly how I try to treat them. Will you do the same?

  10. YES!!! Finally a man with common sense & a backbone to stand up to this type of extortion & intimidation type tactics. Mr. Tryon…wish you lived here in Missoula where now almost all the men have been neutered by either liberal brow beating – guilt trips – mostly political heavy handed tactics. I commend you on your solid judgement and not backing down & as per your statement “Knee jerk reaction” on the issue. God bless you and thank you for not only defending your public servants in that county – but also your community who looks upon you and your other council as leaders!! Way to go!!

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