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Opinion
Editorial: Law enforcement in Big Horn County


"Some residents of Fort Smith, an unincorporated town on the Bighorn River, nestled between the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area and the Crow Indian Reservation, are concerned about a lack of law enforcement presence in their town of 150. At a recent community meeting, townspeople tallied up some 20 burglaries and break-ins in the past year. Crimes ranging from drug dealing to vandalism were also reported. They want something to be done to address this serious issue before it gets even worse.

Residents say they don't know who to turn to for help because they get no response from the sheriff's office, which has not stationed a deputy in Fort Smith for several years. The National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs do not have jurisdiction in the town. A public meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. today in the Bighorn Baptist Church in Fort Smith to discuss residents' concerns. County and federal officials have been invited to attend.

Fort Smith's concerns are part of a bigger question surrounding law enforcement in Big Horn County. On Friday, 1,157 signatures of county residents who want to oust Sheriff Lawrence "Pete" Big Hair were submitted on petitions demanding a recall election. Bob Runge, a former Big Horn County deputy sheriff, organized the recall drive that yielded two more signatures than the 1,155 needed to force an election."

Get the Story:
Gazette Opinion: Residents want help from Big Horn County (The Billings Gazette 9/30)

Related Stories:
Indian county sheriff faces recall election (9/29)
County sheriff faces charges in Crow tribal court (6/24)
Crow candidate leads sheriff race in Montana county (11/8)