Dangerous Road Conditions on I90

The Fort Ellis Fire Department agrees with the Bozeman Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee in calling for a reduced speed limit on I90 from the top of Bozeman Pass to Belgrade, says Mike Cech, Chief of the Fort Ellis Fire Department. Chief Cech notes that in 2017 Fort Ellis responded to I90 115 times and for 24 calls in December and 13 calls so far this month. Of these calls, 19 have been in a 3 mile stretch between Bear Canyon and Trail Creek where I90 enters Rocky Creek Canyon. This area is notorious (to us) for developing black ice when approached from the West where roads are clear and dry. Chief Cech observes that a lower speed limit will potentially serve to reduce accidents and improve public and responder safety. Timely highway maintenance, improved road surface treatment, and signage would go a long way to reducing accidents and will also improve highway safety in these high accident locations during bad weather as will warnings posted on the sign board at MP310.

In summary, Chief Cech asks all travelers to slow down and watch out for changing conditions between Bozeman and Livingston.

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911 Misdials

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has seen a spike in the number of 911 misdials or pocket dials in recent months. These calls congest the 911 dispatch center and divert public safety personnel and resources from actual emergency calls.

In Gallatin County, 911 misdials are commonly received throughout the year but spike in summer and winter months when larger numbers of people come to the area to visit and recreate. This winter season the Sheriff’s Office has seen a drastic increase in accidental 911 calls. In November, the Sheriff’s Office received 107 911 misdials and 248 in December.  January is on course to be as high as December, if not higher.

The majority of the 911 misdials received by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office in the winter months come from the ski slopes of Big Sky and Bridger Bowl. Skiers and snowboarders unknowingly activate the emergency call features on their cellular phones and watches while skiing and snowboarding.

Understanding how your particular cellular device works is important in order to prevent the activation of the emergency call features. It is also important to know how to properly store your device while recreating outdoors to avoid accidental misdials as cold weather can also cause the emergency features to activate and call 911.

In the event you do accidentally call 911, please stay on the phone, be courteous and answer all questions asked. This will allow dispatchers and law enforcement to quickly address and close the calls and move on to other pressing matters.

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Law Enforcement Seeks Public Assistance


Law Enforcement Seeks Public’s Assistance

The Belgrade Police Department and Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance in a recent criminal case.

Law enforcement is seeking the following items, possibly disposed of after a criminal act: one pair of tan boots, one pair of tan/black hiking shoes, two pairs of gloves, a Garmin GPS unit and a pistol. Law enforcement requests if anyone locates items consistent with the above listed items to not disturb the evidence and immediately call the Belgrade Police Department at 406-388-4262.

You may remain anonymous. Persons providing information leading to the recovery of the above items may be eligible for a reward.

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Arrest Made in Belgrade Shooting

All Citizens,

The entire team of officers working this investigation would like to report that an Arrest Warrant was issued this afternoon and served in Bozeman, Montana.

Officers Arrested:

Joseph Paul DeWise, 46 y.o.a. ,  male resident of Bozeman, Montana for Deliberate Homicide in the shooting death of his wife, Lauren DeWise.

DeWise was arrested during a traffic stop at approximately 1530 hrs. without incident and transported to the Gallatin County Detention Center.

Bail Amount has been set at $1,000,000.00.

Please understand that this investigation is still active and more charges are likely in the near future.

More detailed and factual information can be found in the charging documents that have been filed with the Gallatin County Justice Court located at the Law and Justice Center.

Thank you,

Chief E. J. Clark


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Update: Belgrade Shooting Incident

Citizens of Belgrade and the Gallatin Valley,

The Belgrade Police Department responded to a shooting incident on Idaho Street in Belgrade on January 7, 2018 at approximately 9:00 a.m.

Upon arrival officers entered and located two victims. One victim was deceased and one was transported to the hospital for medical treatment and remains hospitalized. No one else was inside the home at that time. After speaking with witnesses officers located and detained a person of interest and that person was interviewed.

Throughout the day and night Investigators and officers from the Belgrade Police Department, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, Montana State University Police and members from Federal agencies have worked tirelessly to complete numerous interviews, process the scene and follow up leads developed by their efforts and those reported by citizens.

It became apparent that the person of interest would need to be released without arrest. I understand this fact will upset people and they will not understand the reasons. Everyone must understand that the investigators know the severity of this case and they share the public’s feelings for justice.

We realize that those not familiar with how the Justice system works may not understand this process and become angry and frustrated. We in Law Enforcement hear you and understand your feelings and concerns. We also know that you want us to get it right.  I can tell you that the investigative team is working very hard to obtain justice for these victims and their families.

Without someone in custody several people have raised concerns about the publics’ safety during this time. The investigators and command staffs involved in this case want you to know that the public’s safety is our number one concern.  If we feel there is an urgent public safety risk we will immediately notify you by the quickest means.

During these investigations we cannot give out all the details that everyone wants to know. We sympathize with you and ask for your understanding and patience. Please trust in the officers that we all count on.


Chief E. J. Clark Jr.






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Snowmobilers Helped out of Lionshead

(West Yellowstone, Mont.) On 01/07/2018 at  3:47 p.m. a forest service law enforcement officer was contacted at Lionshead Trailhead by a wayward snowmobiler who said his three companions had entered an area that he was uncomfortable riding in because of the steep slope and deep snow conditions.  The 16 year old male from Bozeman decided not to enter the area and instead stayed on the trail and followed it to the trailhead.  He had been texting with his companions who provided GPS coordinates of their location however indicated they had become stuck and were attempting to extricate their snowmobiles. By  5:16 p.m. it had become apparent that they would be unable to get their snowmobiles unstuck and find their way out of the steep canyon they had entered. Volunteer Rescuers from Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, and the Forest Service responded to assist.

Information received via text message with the snowmobilers indicated that they were located in a deep canyon near Lionshead Mountain approximately 15 miles west of West Yellowstone. They reported that they were getting cold but had been able to get a fire going.  Rescuers split into two teams attempting to find the best way into and out of the area. When found the two MSU students from Bozeman and one 22 year old male from Denver Colorado were escorted out of the canyon. Due to the steep terrain and deep snow present in the canyon, rescue teams had an extremely difficult time getting the snowmobiles unstuck and back out to the trail.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers that it’s not uncommon to become disoriented and/or stuck in steep mountainous terrain. Proper equipment and survival gear can make all the difference when faced with the possibility of spending a significant amount of time out in the elements. Snowmobilers are also encouraged to only ride areas within their skill level. #####

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Shooting Victim Identified

(Bozeman, Mont.) The Office of the Sheriff/Coroner identified the victim of the shooting in Belgrade as 35 year old Lauren Walder Dewise of Bozeman.  The case is being investigated by the Belgrade Police Department.


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Belgrade Shooting

(Belgrade, Mont.) At 9:00 A.M. Belgrade Police were dispatched to the 1300 block of Idaho Street for a reported shooting.  Police and Fire units found one person deceased and one person injured both from apparent gun shot wounds.  The injured was transported to the hospital.   During the investigation a suspect was identified and is currently in custody.  Police know of no other suspects or threats to the community at this time.  Chief EJ Clark stated, “As we all know these are difficult cases and take a great deal of time and effort to investigate correctly.  Please avoid the area of Idaho Street and allow the Officers to do their work.”  No names are being released at this time until family can be notified.  #####


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Snowmobilers Rescued from Lions Head

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  On Saturday January 6, 2018 at 7:16 pm., the West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch center received a 911 call reporting two lost and stuck snowmobilers. A 47 year old male from North Carolina reported that he and another male snowmobiler from Utah were stuck and lost somewhere in the Lionhead area, approximately 15 miles west of the Town of West Yellowstone. Their 911 call provided rescuers with an accurate GPS location.
Personnel from Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, West Yellowstone Secton responded. A group of eight rescue personnel responded on snowmobiles to the GPS location provided.
Rescuers found the men approximately 1 hour after the initial call. The snowmobilers were in good condition, but low visibility from fog and snow prevented them from finding one of the stuck snowmobiles. Rescuers loaded up one of the victims, doubled him up on a rescue sled and everyone was able to ride out.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to be careful when recreating off trail and to know your limitations. A fun adventure into the amazing backcountry areas we have access to can quickly turn into an emergency situation.  Always remember to ride with a partner, stay with your partner, carry a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency, and be prepared to survive the night if you should have to. #####


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Avalanche Fatality near Cabin Creek

(Gallatin County, Mont.) On January 2, 2018 at 4:49 p.m. Gallatin County dispatch received a report of an avalanche with a person injured. The initial location was reported as Cabin Creek Campground however, GPS coordinates indicated the location was in Cabin Creek approximately 19 miles north of West Yellowstone.

Rescuers from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the West Yellowstone Division of Gallatin County Search and Rescue and Air Methods responded.

The sheriff’s search commander immediately dispatched a helicopter from Air Idaho to positively locate and assess the possibility of landing and rendering medical aid. Individuals on scene were instructed to find and improve any possible landing zone for the helicopter. The Air Idaho helicopter was on the scene in 32 minutes but revival efforts were unsuccessful.

The injured snowmobiler, 40-year-old Weylon W Wiedemann, from Pine City Minnesota was pronounced dead at the scene. The Sheriff’s Coroner with help from the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center will conduct the investigation Wednesday.

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