Four Have Escaped Bozeman Police in Last Decade

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN — An attempted rape suspect who escaped from Bozeman police custody last month and eluded capture for nearly three weeks wasn’t the first person to walk out of the Law & Justice Center while in custody, according to records obtained by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Public records requested by the newspaper showed Kevin Briggs’ Feb. 1 escape was the fourth from the center in the past decade.

Police have made several changes after Briggs’ escape, including requiring a written tracking form that requires officer signatures when the responsibility for a suspect is transferred to another officer. A work station was installed in an observation room so officers can work while keeping an eye on the interview rooms. Police Chief Ron Price said he has that ordered windows be added to the doors of two interview rooms that currently have no windows.

Records show a suspect in a mail-theft case walked out of the center in October 2004 and juveniles escaped in 2008 and 2011.

Price said he couldn’t explain why changes weren’t made after the previous escapes because he didn’t know about them until the department performed its internal review on the Briggs escape. Price became police chief in July 2010.

Briggs was arrested on suspicion of attempted rape, aggravated assault and assault on a peace officer. He was left unsupervised in an unlocked interview room for more than 30 minutes when he walked out of the Law & Justice Center. He got a ride to Missoula, where he apparently took a bus to Spokane, Wash. The FBI became involved with the search for Briggs, 28, who was arrested in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 21.

Two police officers were suspended without pay for two weeks for mistakes that led to Briggs’ escape.

Price said he has been working with the Gallatin County attorney and sheriff’s office to establish guidelines for using the jail when interviewing high-risk suspects. He also is reviewing the legality of putting a handcuff fixture in the interview room or installing locks on the doors.