Governor Gianforte, Butte-Silver Bow Declare Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis

Governor's Office
  • October 26 2022

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte and Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher today issued a Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis Declaration for Butte-Silver Bow.

“Like so many Montana communities, Butte has seen an alarming rise in fentanyl and opioid use and, as a result, a tragic loss of life,” Governor Gianforte said. “They’re stepping up to get the word out that one pill can kill, and we’re proud to stand with them as we work statewide to protect our communities from these deadly drugs.”

Butte-Silver Bow Crisis Declaration

Gov. Gianforte signs crisis declaration with Chief Executive Gallagher

The governor joined Gallagher yesterday to sign the crisis declaration, which was developed following a roundtable meeting the governor held earlier this month with the Butte community fentanyl action team.

Local leaders in Butte stood up the team to address the growing crisis, bringing together stakeholders in business, health care, treatment, law enforcement, local government, faith, and education.

“Butte-Silver Bow, like many communities is being hit hard by the increase in opioid/fentanyl overdoses and deaths,” Chief Executive Gallagher said. “In August, I called for an emergency community meeting to address this epidemic facing our community. With the support of local leaders, school leaders, businesses, and citizens, we will be executing a plan of action with many work groups to combat this crisis.”

“The first of many strategies will be to launch a six-month hard hitting social media and advertising campaign that will go live in early November sponsored by the Town Pump Foundation,” Gallagher continued. “Our community has always been known for our Can-Do attitude and sprit. It is our hope that what we create will be a model for other communities to follow. I appreciate the support and the Governor and his willingness to help in our efforts. We are all in this together!”

During a Butte community fentanyl action team roundtable earlier this month, the Town Pump Charitable Foundation announced a $100,000 donation to launch a “shock campaign” to increase awareness in the Butte community. Scheduled to launch in November, the campaign will include targeted ads on YouTube, Hulu, Snapchat, and other platforms, as well as a website, a Facebook page, and electronic communications to the Butte community.

Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester, a member of the Butte community fentanyl action team, was also present for the declaration signing. Statewide and across the country, law enforcement is seizing record amounts of fentanyl, a deadly drug 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

According to the Montana Department of Justice, anti-drug task forces in Montana is are on track to triple the amount of fentanyl seized this year from the record-breaking amount seized in 2021.

“The situation we face today is not something we can fix at any single level,” Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester said. “The opioid crisis is affecting Butte and communities throughout Montana. A partnership between state and local government is our best hope to change behavior and save lives.”

In August, Gov. Gianforte, U.S. Senator Steve Daines, Congressman Matt Rosendale, Attorney General Austin Knudsen, and state and local law enforcement came together in Gallatin County to urge the Biden administration to secure the southern border amid record fentanyl seizures in Montana. As a result of the federal government’s response to the crisis at the border, the governor joined other state leaders to launch the American Governors’ Border Strike Force, a collaborative effort among 26 states to, among other objectives, improve coordination and communication to combat the trafficking of illegal drugs.

While calling on the federal government to secure the border, crack down on cartels, and cut off the supply of fentanyl, Gov. Gianforte emphasized the need in Montana to continue to hold drug dealers accountable and connect individuals struggling with addiction to treatment.

In August, Gov. Gianforte convened a public safety roundtable with local officials, treatment providers, and law enforcement officers in Butte as the crisis at the U.S. southern border drives up drug interdictions, drug use, and crime in Montana. The governor convened similar roundtables in Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, Big Timber, and Missoula earlier this year.

View the joint Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis Declaration here.