MT County Attorney ‘Shocked’ by DPHHS ‘Stonewalling’ on Child Toxicology Info
How hard can it be to get state agencies to share information? Just ask Custer County Attorney Wyatt Glade. Glade has been working for more than a year to get toxicology information held by Montana DPHHS into the hands of local law enforcement and prosecutors. Glade says the information was surprisingly difficult to get.
"What I noticed is that the Department of Child and Family Services, who regularly investigates instances of Child Abuse and Neglect were coming across instances where children had been exposed to methamphetamine or other dangerous drugs and had evidence of that in the form of toxicology tests, primarily hair follicle tests, and they were not providing that evidence to law enforcement officers," Glade said.
Even after a bill that Glade worked on was signed into law during the last Legislative Sessison, DPHHS was still holding the toxicology reports. Only in the past week did he receive a letter from DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan than they had officially changed the information sharing policy.
"I can't believe it took this much work," Glade said. "I can't speak for the Department, I mean, I'm sure they had their reasons for this, but I couldn't find any that I agreed with. The way that I discovered that this needed to happen is I was simply trying to get the Department to provide this information to law enforcement officers and the level of sandbagging and stonewalling that I received on this front... it shocked me."
A DPHHS spokesman released the following to KGVO on Wednesday: “DPHHS has heard and understands the concerns raised by the county attorneys. Director Hogan has concluded, with additional information, that the Department will move forward with sharing toxicology reports with the county attorneys as the final piece for full implementation of this bill.”
Glade says DPHHS was using a federal law designed to protect the identities of patients in federally funded substance abuse centers. He argued that the children caught up in these drug situations were neither in federal institutions nor addicts seeking treatment, and thus, did not fall under the guidelines of the federal law.