MPD Officer Patrols for Illegal Transient Behavior - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

MPD Officer Patrols for Illegal Transient Behavior

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MISSOULA -

Businesses in downtown Missoula have reported problems with transients who disrupt the peace and ultimately discourage patrons from entering some stores.

This past spring, the Missoula Police Department designated a downtown officer, who took on the task of keeping business running smoothly.

Detective Andy Roy said overall, transient problems have slowly improved downtown.

Roy said he's realized some changes to current city ordinances on transients are necessary.

He said this summer, he's biked up and down the streets of Missoula, checking in with business owners and patrolling for illegal transient behavior.

"I would say the top three citation are open container, camping in the city and pedestrian interference," Roy said.

Roy said the already high number of transients living within city limits was boosted this summer as an influx of Rainbow Family travelers hit Missoula.

He said he and a other MPD officers on bicycles gave out 50 citations to transients in just the past two weeks. 

"It was definitely a roller coaster ride during the peak of the summer," Roy said.

Roy said a current city ordinance makes it illegal for transients to stand directly at the door of a business. However, he says that hasn't stopped some transients who have lived in Missoula for a longer period.

He explained, "The ones that are little more street savvy, they alter their behavior, but to act within the law, but they're still creating the problems that created the ordinance in the first place."

Roy said he and other city officials are working to increase the lawful distance between transients and businesses downtown.

"My position is to create a safe and ideal downtown for shoppers and business owners," Roy said.

Mayor John Engen, the city council and other Missoula officials work with outreach centers like the Poverello Center, to help break the cycle of homelessness.

Roy said law enforcement and education will help maintain a steady -- and safe -- commerce downtown.

"It's something that we need to strive for, because the downtown, it… it makes Missoula what it is," he said.

Detective Roy said his position patrolling downtown will continue through the end of this year.

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