MMIW

HELENA- On Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Tim Fox announced how the state will implement new laws to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people.

Fox said, "In my book, even one person going missing or being murdered is one too many."

At least 25 native women and children went missing last year in Montana, according to state statistics, and only one was found alive.

Fox says talk between all agencies involved in these cases must be better.

Fox said, "Communication barriers and other things that get in the way of actually finding solutions and our goal will be, among other things, to break down those barriers."

In order to help with the communication, the DOJ is forming a Missing Persons Task Force to unite tribal government with law enforcement and the Montana government.

The DOJ sent a letter to all tribal leaders in Montana asking them to send a representative for the task force.

The goal of the task force is not only to look at how Montana responds to missing persons cases but also to look at why people go missing, says Tribal Affairs Coordinator for the DOJ, Melissa Schlichting.

"Also looking at why people go missing and seeing if we can address that and reduce the number of people that go missing on a statewide basis," she said.

Part of Fox's plan also includes hiring a missing persons specialist along with creating a database for children's photo's in case they go missing. The goal is to have everyone across the state working together to bring any missing person home safe.

The DOJ will also implement statewide amber alerts and red alerts so all agencies are made aware of a missing or endangered person right away. Fox said, "We will continue to work with our legislators going forward, there may be a need for more resources there may be a need for more legislation in the future."

The first Missing Persons Task Force meeting and training will take place June 11 and 12 in Helena at the Delta Hotel.

On Thursday, Governor Steve Bullock will host a signing ceremony for the legislative package to address missing and murdered indigenous people epidemic in Montana.

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