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Recent robbery raises questions in Lakeside over law enforcement coverage

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Aug 27 2013 06:33:47 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 27 2013 08:31:50 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Flathead County is close to 5,200 square miles in size, about five times the size of the state of Rhode Island. County records show 10 deputies are on duty at any given time. It's little wonder Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry says there are many geographical problems they face every day.

"We do strategically place people the best we can to shorten our response times," Curry told us.

Curry says deputies prioritize calls. If someone is reporting their iPod was stolen two days ago, the response time will be slower than an alleged robbery in progress, like the one Sharon Christensen was at in Lakeside at Blacktail Grocery on Sunday.

"They were pretty good,” Christensen said of the response time of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.  “I thought they got here in 10 minutes which was pretty good.  It seemed like an eternity though."

We spent the day in Lakeside talking with residents and businesses to see how they felt about more law enforcement and responses times currently in the area.  They tell us they think things are going just fine and don't feel any changes need to be made.  But other places, like Blacktail Grocery, tell us it wouldn't hurt if they added more law enforcement to the area.

"It's a congested area during the summer anyway.  There's a lot going on," Christensen said, and she's right.

January of this year covered a robbery at the same store. Angela Russell said a masked man demanded money at knifepoint. Then in September of 2011 a man dubbed the 'motorcycle bandit' held up the bank in Lakeside.

We checked the last four days of the Sheriff's logs and found deputies head to Lakeside an average of three to four times a day.

The sheriff studies the same statistics to see how to assign his deputies.

"We look at that data on a weekly basis,” Curry said.  “We look at where a majority of our calls are, where to strategically at least assign people to minimize our response times."