Marion sees increase in law enforcement activity


KALISPELL, Mont. - If you travel 20 miles west of Kalispell, you end up in the small town of Marion.

"Lately, as you're aware, we've been out in Marion quite a number of times," said Flathead County Undersheriff Dave Lieb.

It's not quite somewhere you would expect to see a high level of law enforcement activity, but the sheriff's office says they've recently been responding to a high number of domestic disturbance incidents.

Lieb tells us for small towns in the county, like Marion or Lakeside, they can't actively patrol the area like they do Kalispell or Whitefish.

"We're reacting to what is happening and we're prioritizing based on calls considering officer safety, considering the safety of the people that are the witnesses, the noncombatants out on those calls," says Lieb.

Lieb says at any one time, six deputies are out on duty to cover over 5,000 square miles of Flathead County.

One is assigned north of Kalispell, in Whitefish and Columbia Falls.

Another is assigned in Kalispell and Evergreen.

A third is assigned south of Kalispell in Lakeside and Bigfork.

The other three deputies are roaming and are used to assist other deputies on calls.

Lieb says the sheriff's department is behind on the growth the valley has seen, and he believes more deputies out on patrol and on duty could help prevent or respond to incidents faster.

"We talk to the commissioners on a yearly basis about the possibility of adding personnel, but again you have to work with the money that you're costing the taxpayers," Lieb said.

Lieb says that while he has seen more incidents like domestic disputes rise in Marion, he doesn't believe there has been a rise in more violent crimes.