The Missoula County Sheriff's Office's lone school resource officer is on administrative leave after reportedly leaving a duty weapon in a school's faculty bathroom last week, the department said in a release on Monday.
The release from the sheriff's office does not name the school resource officer or the school, and Undersheriff Rich Maricelli said the officer wouldn't be named during the investigation.
However, a July 1 Missoulian article identifies Rebecca Birket as a school resource officer with the sheriff's department who accidentally fired a weapon she was unloading in the parking lot during an active resistance training for officers and school staff. And, a Sept. 20, 2017, Missoulian article announced her being named as the department's first resource officer in more than a decade.
The sheriff's office investigated and filed a report on the active resistance training incident, which took place in the old Mount Jumbo school parking lot. Although the sheriff's office did not elaborate, Birket was disciplined as a result, according to the Missoulian story.
Maricelli confirmed with the Missoulian on Monday there is currently no active school resource officer from the department. For now, deputies patrolling in those school zones are going through the schools in their areas.
He did say, however, that the deputy had requested to be transferred to a different position before the Sept. 14 incident. The department was seeking a new deputy to take over the school resource officer duties when the incident took place, and will look to fill the position as soon as possible, he said.
Maricelli said it would be premature to speculate on the possible repercussions of leaving a service weapon in a school bathroom.
The department's professional standards captain will conduct the investigation and turn a report over to the sheriff, who then will meet with the administrative staff to determine appropriate action, he said.
"We of course take it very seriously and want to make sure we have a safe environment," Maricelli said.
"This was an unfortunate incident and we are thankful that no one was hurt," Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott said in the emailed statement. "We are committed to school safety and value our school partnerships. We plan to do a thorough investigation and upon conclusion will notify the appropriate parties of which course of action will be taken."
Missoula County Public Schools spokeswoman Hatton Littman said the incident did not take place at one of the district facilities, but rather one of the 11 independent K-8 elementary schools.
The Missoula Police Department deploys school resource officers to schools inside the city limits, while the sheriff's office SRO covers those outside the city limits, such as Lolo, Frenchtown, Target Range, Seeley Lake and Condon.
The sheriff's office is also seeking funds for an additional school resource officer, Maricelli said.
"We're moving forward with it as we speak," he said.