McDermott announces plans to seek reelection as Missoula County sheriff

TJ McDermott

Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott on Tuesday announced his intention to seek reelection, stating his plans to grow the city’s jail diversion efforts and add deputies to local schools, among other efforts.

McDermott, who was elected to office in 2014, joined Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst in announcing his plans to seek a second term.

“We want to continue to provide the best possible public safety to the community as the community grows,” McDermott said Tuesday. “It’s an honor to be the sheriff and lead the brave men and women in office. They do an amazing job serving our community, and I want to continue to be their advocate.”

Over his first three years in office, McDermott has played a central role in local efforts to implement and solidify a jail diversion program. The push looks to address overcrowding at the Missoula County Detention Center by keeping non-violent offenders out of jail.

McDermott said he looks to continue the program as it gains momentum.

“We’ll continue to work on jail diversion and address the overcrowding issues in the county jail, especially the diversion of non-violent and non-dangerous offenders,” said McDermott, noting those with addiction issues and mental health needs. “We’ve worked with other city, county and state leaders to properly treat those folks outside of jail.”

McDermott, a 22-year law enforcement veteran, began his career as a police office in Anaconda in 1995. He joined the Missoula Police Department in 1998 before signing on with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department in 2003.

There, he was initially assigned to the patrol division before becoming a detective in 2006 – a role he maintained for seven years. McDermott was selected in 2007 to serve on the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and was officer of the year in 2010 – an award given in part for the role he played in arresting those behind a teenage prostitution ring.

“Sheriff McDermott is a people-caring person,” said former Missoula County Sheriff Doug Chase. “TJ makes sure his people are well trained, well equipped and dedicated to the safety of the general public. My wife and I fully support his decision to run for re-election and look forward to the future of the department under his continued leadership.”

Under McDermott’s watch, the the sheriff’s department grew its school resource officer program by placing a deputy in local schools. He looks to grow that effort in the years ahead, providing what he described as an adult role model to area children.

“We fully staffed all our task forces, our drug and street crimes, and I hope to keep those fully staffed so we can deal with the meth epidemic that’s occurring in our community,” McDermott said. “We’ve also updated our safety equipment, and I was able to add four deputies.”

The office now claims 53 sworn deputies, more than 100 detention officers and a civilian staff of roughly 20 employees.

“I’m gratified by the level of support I’ve been able to maintain throughout my first few years,” McDermott said. “The city and county leaders are critical to the success of being able to work with other leaders on issues related to crime.”