Arrest Made Following Late-Night Disturbance

(Gallatin County, Mont) Last night, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to a 911 call reporting a disturbance with a weapon in Clarkston, north of Three Forks. The initial call indicated there were two different altercations involving three individuals, all of whom reside in the area. Detectives investigating the incident found that one of the individuals, a 39-year-old male, confessed to firing multiple rounds from a pistol into the victim’s residence. There were no occupants in the residence at the time and fortunately no injuries during the altercation. The man was arrested for Criminal Endangerment, a felony, and is currently being held at the Gallatin County Detention Center while he waits to be seen in Justice Court.

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A Message from the Sheriff to Forrest Fenn Treasure Hunters

(Gallatin County, Mont.) In the last couple years, two people have died, two have been rescued near death, several have had run-ins with local and federal law enforcement, and one told his wife today he was injured but not where he was. The common denominator is that these people were all near Yellowstone National Park and they were all looking for the Forrest Fenn treasure. Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin has a message for treasure hunters: “You must know that this country is unforgiving if you don’t give it the respect it deserves. Let someone know where you are going – exactly, not some vague geographic area to keep your secret safe – and when you expect to return. Be prepared for the changing weather and wilderness conditions. Many areas have no cell phone service. Mountain streams and rivers are especially dangerous. Bears, snakes, and gravity are found in abundance in our corner of the world. We encourage everyone to vigorously pursue their outdoor passions, but think like a local. Before you go after the treasure, consider your level of skill, preparation and knowledge of the area.  Consider the volunteer hours spent searching if you need to be rescued, and the anxiety of those left at home.”

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Fees for copies of birth, death records increasing next month

Starting next month, fees for certified copies of birth and death records in Montana will be increasing.

During the 2019 Legislature, which met earlier this year, lawmakers passed House Bill 126 that increases the fees for a certified copy of a birth certificate from $5 to $8, and a death certificate from $3 to $5.

The fee increase begins July 1.

In Gallatin County, copies of birth certificates and death certificates can be obtained from the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, located at the Gallatin County Courthouse in downtown Bozeman.

Applications can be found online at this link, or in person at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 311 W. Main St. room 203.

If you have any questions, please contact the Clerk and Recorder’s Office by phone at 406-582-3050, by email at or stop by in person at the Gallatin County Courthouse.

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Climbing Rescue in Hyalite Canyon

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Saturday evening at 6:30 Sheriff’s Search and Rescue with Hyalite Fire Department, AMR Ambulance, Reach Air Ambulance and Central Helicopters responded to Practice Rock in Hyalite Canyon for an injured climber.  The 23 year old man from Kalispell suffered a significant head injury when he fell while climbing.  Rescuers from the Alpine Team and Posse along with some very proficient flying from Central Helicopters were able to evacuate the man to medical care in about an hour.  Sheriff Gootkin said,”This was a technically difficult rescue.  We are grateful for the skill of our search and rescue volunteers and the help from other agencies.  It is not easy to get an injured person out of that area but the SAR Team is really good at what they do.”

photo courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office

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Gallatin County Commission to consider ballot issue changing county elections to nonpartisan

At their June 18 public meeting, Gallatin County Commissioners will consider asking voters if they want to change county elections from partisan to nonpartisan for Gallatin County offices.

In this year’s Legislature, Montana lawmakers passed House Bill 129, which allows Montana counties to ask voters if they would like to change the types of elections held for county officials from partisan to nonpartisan.

Commissioners will decide Tuesday if they would like to add this question for Gallatin County voters on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Gallatin County has 12 elected positions that this would impact: three County Commissioners, two Justices of the Peace, Sheriff, County Attorney, Treasurer, Clerk and Recorder, Superintendent of Schools, Auditor and Clerk of District Court.

To get this question onto this fall’s ballot, Commissioners must pass an ordinance, which they will consider Tuesday. Read a draft of the ordinance here.

If passed, the ordinance will have a second reading at the Commissioners’ Tuesday, July 9 public meeting. If passed at that meeting, the question will then be placed on November’s ballot.

Citizens are encouraged to submit public comment on this topic by:

  • Attending Tuesday’s public meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. in the third floor Community Room at the Gallatin County Courthouse, 311 W. Main St. in downtown Bozeman.
  • Submitting written public comment by email at or dropping it off at the Commission Office, located in room 306 at the Gallatin County Courthouse.

Commission meetings are audio streamed live online, televised on cable channel 190, and are recorded.

For any questions, please contact the Gallatin County Commission Office at 582-3000.

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Update: Belgrade High School Incident

On June 4, 2019, Officers from the Belgrade Police Department, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and Manhattan Police Department responded to the Belgrade High School for an incident which was precipitated by a threatening video posted to social media.  Detectives are still actively investigating the matter, however incidents such as these are complex in nature and are very time consuming. Four juvenile students have been charged with Felony Intimidation.  One adult male was arrested and charged with Tampering with Physical Evidence, also a felony.  As this matter is still under investigation, we cannot offer further comment at this time.  Belgrade Police Detectives are still working to identify and contact the victims mentioned and/or tagged in the video and will be in contact with them in the coming days.  Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Belgrade Police Department Detective Division at 406-388-4262. Tips can also be emailed to:

Media Contact:

Dustin Lensing, Detective Sergeant

Office: 406-388-4262

Cell: 406-209-0668

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Video Threat Investigated at Belgrade Schools

Schools in Belgrade were put under a shelter-in-place order while law enforcement investigated a video that threatened violence toward students. At 12:59 p.m., the Belgrade School District contacted Belgrade Police after it was reported that several students had produced a threatening video.

Officers quickly responded and apprehended several students they believe were involved with making the video.

Belgrade High School, Belgrade Middle School, and Saddle Peak and Heck Quaw elementary schools were all put under a shelter in place. That means the buildings were secure, students and staff were kept inside and no outside activities were allowed; butinside the schools, classes proceeded as normal.

Belgrade Police were assisted by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and the Bozeman Police Department.

Belgrade Police Chief EJ Clark said the school did the right thing in promptly reporting the incident to police. “We had a great response from everybody,” Clark said.

Clark said students and staff reacted well thanks to training that has been done between students, faculty and law enforcement. “We had a great response from everybody.”

“Our No. 1 mission was to keep kids safe and dispel rumors as best we could,” Belgrade Schools Superintendent Godfrey Saunders said.

Saunders said the school district appreciates the law enforcement response, as well as patience in getting information out. “We wanted to make sure we got the correct story out there at the right time.”

Students need to think about their actions and threats they make will be taken seriously by everyone, and the school and law enforcement will act accordingly, Clark and Saunders said.

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River Rescue Video link

The link for the river safety advisory is available here;




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Water Rescue on the Gallatin

(Gallatin County, Mont.)

Monday at 8:50 pm, Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to a water rescue on the Gallatin River between Axtell Anceny Rd and Norris Rd.  A local Magenta Road resident heard what he thought was screaming coming from the river behind his home.  He investigated and found a person stuck under a cut bank on the opposite side of the river.  The 54-year-old woman was part of a group that crashed two rafts and a kayak about an hour earlier.  As more information about boats floating in the river came in, the rescue expanded into a simultaneous search for further victims.  Life Flight helicopter and local landowners assisted search and rescue personnel in the effort.

The woman was stuck next to the water below an actively eroding cut bank. A Search and Rescue boat crew made the rescue and transported her across the river where she was carried to a waiting AMR ambulance and Gateway Fire Fighters.  She was so hypothermic that she could not give responders much specific information about what had happened and how many people were involved.  The other two men and a dog in her group were  located safely on shore further up the river by Search and Rescue personnel about 10:00.  The group was reunited before she was transported to Bozeman Health Hospital by the AMR ambulance.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind residents and visitors that the spring run-off makes local rivers and streams extremely hazardous.  The stretch of the Gallatin from the mouth of Gallatin Canyon to Manhattan is full of debris and hazards and not recommended for recreational boating, especially during spring run off.  People that know the river say that this stretch of river is never worth the risk for boating.  In addition if you lose your boat please contact the Sheriff’s Office (582-2100) as soon as you can.  The boat will be reported by someone and cause Deputies and SAR volunteers to investigate and make sure no one is trapped or in need of rescue.

A river safety video from Sheriff’s Search and Rescue is posted here;

Photo courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office

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Violent Offender Task Force Warrant Operation Media Event

In May 2019, members of local law enforcement, along with the US Marshals’ Montana Violent Offender Task Force, conducted Operation Spring Sweep.

This was a coordinated multi-agency operation to apprehend violent fugitives with the goal of reducing violent crime in Bozeman, Belgrade, and Livingston, as well as Gallatin and Park Counties.

Agencies that participated included:

  • Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
  • Belgrade Police Department
  • Billings Police Department
  • Bozeman Police Department
  • Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Livingston Police Department
  • Missouri River Drug Task Force (MRDTF)
  • Montana Department of Corrections (DOC)
  • Park County Sheriff’s Office
  • Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office
  • United States Marshals Service (USMS)
  • Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office

During the operation, sixty-three (63) cases were worked with fifty-two (52) being resolved either by arrest or other dispositions. Thirty-one (31) physical arrests of subjects either wanted on outstanding warrants or on new charges were made.

This operation has directly contributed to improved public safety through the joint efforts of the above-listed agencies.

On May 31, 2019 at 11:00 am, a joint media conference will be held at the Gallatin County Detention Center Community Room where representatives from agencies including Bozeman Police, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and the US Marshals Service will be available to provide further information on the results and impact of this operation.

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