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Polson Police focus on helping drug endangered children

POLSON – During his annual report at the May 7 meeting, Police Chief Wade Nash told the city commission that new efforts to remove children from homes where drugs are used or sold are changing the way that officers approach their jobs. 

In 2017 the department started working with in the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. This program focuses on removing children from homes where drug activity is taking place.

The police chief said that the department is “refocusing the mentality” of officers by encouraging them to measure their performance not by the outcome of prosecution, but by the difference that they make firsthand. Nash said that when officers remove children from dangerous living situations, they are making an immediate positive change.

As part of the effort to aid drug-endangered children, the department served four residential search warrants in December 2017. Officers found drugs, paraphernalia, weapons, and cash in those homes. Nash said that the most important outcome of the raids is that nine children were removed from living environments where drugs were being used or sold.

“I think bringing this mentality to our community gives the officer a reason to go out and work hard every day and make a difference,” he said.

The Polson Police Department has gotten positive feedback about their action to arrest people who are using, producing, or selling drugs. Nash said that he has received donations from people from as far away as Texas who want to support the department’s efforts. These donations have been put into a “drug fund,” which currently contains about $13,000. The money will be used for future drug-related investigations. The department is also seeking funding for future investigations from the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children.

During his report, Nash presented officer Mathieu Gfroerer with a pin for his promotion to corporal. Nash said that the addition of a corporal to the force allows the department to have a supervisor on duty nearly 24 hours each day. Gfroerer has been an officer in the department for nearly three years. Before he joined the Polson Police Department, Gfroerer worked for the county sheriff’s office. 

“I think he’s going to do a great service for the citizens of Polson,” Nash said.

The police chief said that the top three crimes in the city in 2017 were theft, physical assault, and drug offenses. According to Nash, though there were more criminal cases in 2017 than in 2016, there was a decrease in violent offenses. The increase was in petty crimes. He said that the number of DUI arrests decreased and that there were no homicides in 2017. Nash said that the increase in traffic accidents was the most outstanding statistic from the previous year. In 2016 there were 216 traffic accidents in the city limits and in 2017 there were 403. Nash said that this drastic increase could have been the result of the longer winter season.

In 2017 the police department used social media to interact with the community more than it ever had before. He said that last year the Polson Police Department Facebook page had 1,800 followers, and this year it has more than 4,000. The page is used to announce events and provide information, but it also allows the public to assist the police. Nash said that through social media members of the public have identified suspected criminals and found the owners of lost pets. 

“The fastest crime that was solved on social media was 14 seconds. It’s truly amazing how that word gets out there,” he said.

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