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New requirements for misdemeanor offenders in Montana

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MISSOULA, Mont. - A big change is coming for Montana law enforcement when a new law kicks in July 1. House Bill 133 aims to alleviate overcrowding in jails. Instead of arresting some misdemeanor offenders, suspects will be ordered to appear in court and requred to get fingerprinted. Missoula Police Administrative Captain Chris Odlin said the department is gearing up for the change. "Fingerprinting is not something the police department has traditionally done," Odlin said. "It has created some new training issues for us, some new equipment issues and some new space issues. It is going to be time consuming." Issues aside, Odlin said it's a work in progress. "We will certainly handle it," Odlin said. "It is just going to take us a little bit to figure out exactly how to handle it and what's the most efficient way to handle it." According to ??Misdemeanor Guide an offense can be any of the following:

Cruelty to animals Resisting arrest Possession of firearms Reckless driving

Officials said with the new law there are certain situations where offenders will likely be cited, released and told to show up to court for fingerprinting. Fingerprints are done at the police station and then sent to the state. Odlin said fingerprinting misdemeanor offenders will help keep the system accurate.?

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