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Annual Bozeman Police report shows Bozeman safest among Montana's bigger cities

Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp says caseload and calls to the department continue to increase.
Bozeman crime Rate report .jpg
Posted at 5:55 PM, May 22, 2024

BOZEMAN — This week, the Bozeman Police Department released its annual report that said call volume and some felonies are up throughout the city. But Bozeman’s Police Chief maintains that Bozeman is one of the safest of the state’s seven bigger cities.

Years ago, Mercedes Rangel lived in Bozeman for about a year. Last month, she recently moved back full-time to Bozeman from Texas.

“That's been probably my number-one factor is being able to feel safe in the neighborhood and the community. And here I feel very welcomed and safe,” says Rangel.

She says the crime rate was a major factor when choosing to relocate to Bozeman.

“I looked into those factors and realized that this is a pretty safe area,” says Rangel.

Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp says the calls to the department continue to grow. In 2023, police received 45,511 calls.

“The big change was the types of calls we received. So the severity of crimes, the amount of time and investigation that it takes in each call is continuing to grow,” says Veltkamp.

Veltkamp says the department’s caseload is increasing, with the number of cases in 2023 (5636) down slightly from 2022 (5819). Yet overall, caseload is still up 16.5% since 2020.

“Spending a lot more time on those cases, which leaves a lot less time for them to do things proactively and/or spend time following up on the misdemeanor thefts and some of the other things that are occurring,” says Veltkamp.

According to data from the Montana Board of Crime Control, Bozeman sees 67.98 crimes per 1000 people. Butte sits at 99.03. Kalispell, the closest data to Bozeman, sees 90.98. Billings at 122.83 and Great Falls at 138.76 top out the big seven.

“It's difficult to pinpoint one thing that keeps Bozeman the safest of the seven major cities. It's hard to say,” says Veltkamp.

Veltkamp says it’s the violent crimes that remain lower in Bozeman.

“So those are the drug crimes, the assault with the weapons, the sex crimes. Those are the crimes that make your crime rate,” says Veltkamp.

Veltkamp says his goal heading into the next couple of years is to make sure the department remains staffed and growing to keep up with the population demand.