BILLINGS, Mont. - A new community impact study by Billings Police downtown resource officers said 93 people cost Billings' taxpayers $10,327,665 in 2020. A link to the full study is available here.
Officer Brad Mansur with the Billings Police Department said the cost comes from frequent contacts with law enforcement and visits to the hospital.
A community impact statement detailed out the following:
"In 2020, the Billings Clinic tracked 70 of the 93 individuals for 1247 total visits, costing them $3.84 million in care delivery. Billings Clinic was able to find the other 23 individuals but due to numerous name spelling differences, they did not provide information. For the 23 unaccounted for, an average yearly cost was $63,000 a year in services, totaling $1.3 million. Billings Clinic’s estimated total cost for 2020 to these 93 individuals was $5.14 million.
In 2020, Saint Vincent Healthcare tracked the 93 individuals for 863 visits, costing them $2.6 million in care delivery.
The 93 individuals had a total of 2,110 hospital visits. This does not take into account the 23 individuals Billings Clinic was not able to give accurate data on.
In 2020, the Billings Police Department expended $2,587,665 in employee resources for 634 warnings issued, 547 citations issued, 1504 arrest reports submitted, 633 active warrants, and 5601 total Law Enforcement involvements as of 1/1/2021."
Mansur said the cost estimate is conservative.
"Ten million dollars is a very conservative estimate on two levels," he said. "One, we didn't have about 1/4 of the data between AMR and the fire department. Two, we looked at the tip top 93 users. I had found about 300 individuals who had more than one law enforcement contact for quality of life violations last year. And, I had to narrow that down to a more manageable, understandable number."
Mansur added the 93 individuals in the study are facing homelessness and battling addiction, and the current situation doesn't serve them.
"These are individuals in addiction that we aren't serving," he said. "We're letting their addiction run without interruption. And, because of that, we're not helping them. And we see several individuals in this population every year die on the streets from their situation going uninterrupted. We're hoping to put an end to that."
He said they recommend two things: one is to build a sobering center where people can sober up in a safe place. He said there is an 18-bed sobering center in San Diego that costs $400,000 a year to run.
Mansur also recommends increasing jail capacity. He said:
"The jail is regularly at maximum capacity, which leaves misdemeanor offenders unlikely to be arrested."