Montana Board of Crime Control

Recognition Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA)

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a deserving individual (or group of individuals) who has achieved professional excellence and made lasting contributions to improve Montana’s justice system throughout their career. This award encompasses professionals across the entire justice system and includes law enforcement, crime prevention, public safety, victim services, juvenile justice, forensic science, prosecution, public defenders, courts, corrections and volunteers. The award honors an individual’s proven leadership, vision, and innovation in their field.

Innovative Community Improvement Award (ICIA)

The Innovative Community Improvement Award is presented to a deserving individual (or group of individuals) who has, through a specific campaign or program, made lasting contributions to promote public safety and crime prevention within their community. This may include improving the quality of life, reducing the fear of crime, enhancing services to victims or initiating measurable, positive results. For the purposes of this award, a community is defined as a social unit of any size within Montana that shares common values, and may include towns or cities, a county, a specific region, an Indian reservation, etc. A community is not defined as the entire state. This award encompasses any professional or private community citizen or citizens, or a combination thereof. The award honors an individual’s proven leadership, vision, and innovation resulting in lasting contributions and significant improvements to their community.

2021 Award Winners

2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Ted Lechner

2021 LAA Winner
Ted Lechner

By any criteria, Ted is the father of juvenile justice in Montana, and his contributions to the field are still evident today. Ted began his career as a child protective services worker, providing protection and care for abused and neglected kids. He moved to the juvenile justice system and became the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for the 13th and 22nd judicial districts. He was responsible for the youth court in the counties of Yellowstone, Big Horn, Carbon, and Stillwater. He remained in this position for 27 years, when he retired took a position as the director of Rebound Youth Treatment Facility in Deer Lodge.

When Ted became the Chief Juvenile Probation officer, there was no significant juvenile justice system or infrastructure in Montana. Juveniles were held in adult jails, had few rights, and there was no clear guidance or regulations to govern the care of juveniles across the state. Ted became involved with the emerging Youth Justice Council of the Board of Crime Control and was a key stakeholder in implementing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act in Montana. This act provided for humane practices in juvenile custody and courts and ensured that juvenile justice focused on care and rehabilitation. Working as an advocate to pass, implement and improve the Montana Youth Court Act was one of Ted’s proud achievements. He worked tirelessly with Candace Wimmer, Mike McGrath, and other advocates to ensure that humane and effective juvenile justice practice became law.

However, juveniles were still held in local county jails. After tragic circumstances, Ted engaged other stakeholders and began working tirelessly to develop a safe juvenile detention facility in Yellowstone County. It took years, but he was able to establish the first juvenile detention facility in Montana. The innovative model of the facility collocated a juvenile specific detention center with a youth shelter care facility. Upon his retirement from the County in 1997, the facility was renamed the Ted Lechner Youth Services Center. Ted has spent many years as an active board member of the Center and still constantly advocates for youth.

Ted believed that he had a responsibility to educate and motivate society to care about the plight of youth in the juvenile justice system. He would meet with any judge, businessman, church group or civic organization. He humanized delinquent youth and their families, and taught people to care enough to act. Ted also served his community with membership on placement committees, foster care review, and he was a tireless advocate for the care and treatment of delinquent youth. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of mandatory licensing standards for juvenile facilities, and a strong advocate for meeting the mental health needs of kids in the system. He served on countless boards and work groups at the local and state level during his career and after his retirement.

Ted was instrumental in the creation of many youth programs that are still in existence today. He was a tireless and passionate stakeholder who helped to create and implement programs. He helped to create the Tumbleweed Runaway Program, and the Spring Creek Day Treatment Pilot Program. He assisted with the creation of Family Support Network, serving parents who were struggling with child abuse. Ted also spearheaded the effort to implement the Balanced and Restorative Justice Model in Montana and worked to get BARJ codified in the Montana Youth Court Act. It remains a foundational and guiding principle in Montana juvenile justice.

Ted taught, coached, and mentored countless juvenile justice professionals. Many people began their careers under his tutelage and went on to make significant contributions in juvenile justice. His beliefs, his values, and his sheer dedication to youth and families have informed the practice of countless others. Chief among these beliefs is the idea that youth in the juvenile justice system, abuse and neglect system, and mental health system are OUR youth. That we, as community members, must constantly work toward care and the provision of services to allow youth to succeed, no matter their circumstances.

One would be hard pressed to find anyone else who could be described as the father of juvenile justice in Montana. He gave more than five decades of his time and attention to the cause of juvenile justice and his contributions are still in evidence today. In short, his career is an example of a Lifetime Achievement, and certainly worthy of this honor.

2021 Innovative Community Improvement Award Recipient

Tara Cook

20201 ICIA Winner Tara Cook
Tara Cook

Tara Cook lived among adjudicated teens in the forests of Montana for many years prior to Missoula's sudden loss of its evidence-based crises diversion backpacking program. With a background in Philosophy and hard life lessons, Tara helped youth navigate their emotions, community conflicts, and paths forward in life through metaphors discovered in the wilderness. When Medicaid cuts resulted in the program being cut from Youth Homes in 2017, Tara launched into completely new professional territory to ensure outdoor therapeutic programming remained accessible for youth involved in Child Protective Services and Youth Court.

With zero experience in business management, accounting, media, program coordination, or non-profit management, Tara leaned on the knowledge she gained from her own personal work in the woods with struggling youth and collaborated with the former program therapist to ensure a single summer did not go by without providing the diversion program for youth on track to years of incarceration. With Youth Court funding paying for food and insurance costs, Tara coordinated 4,000 hours of volunteered program staffing, helped secure permits, insurance, DPHHS licensing, medical training, and legal documentation for Inner Roads to become an independent non-profit, in full operation as of 2018. Through endless self-teaching, internet searches, and a relentless belief in every person's potential, Tara alone provides Inner Roads with all accounting, legal permitting, state licensing applications, media marketing and fundraising, program safety policies and procedures, logistical coordination, food shopping, gear repair, wildfire and medical emergency response services, certified de-escalation and restraint training, staff management, and emotional support for the Program Therapist, while working second and third jobs in order to make a living wage in Missoula.

Inner Roads is a small but mighty service that has offered an empowerment-based intervention for youth involved in the court system and has become a self-sustaining non-profit under her management. It would simply not exist without Tara Cook's time, determination, execution, and vision.

To find out more about Inner Roads, Inc., please visit: https://www.innerroadsmt.org/

2020 Award Winners

2020 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

John Strandell

2020 LAA Winner
John Strandell and Former Attorney General Tim Fox

John started his career in law enforcement at Dawson County Sheriff's Office in 1976, rose to sheriff in 1977, then became a bureau chief for the Montana Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation since 2003. Throughout his 44-year career, John examined and initiated on MT DOJ programs that investigated cyber crimes, Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), human trafficking, and social security fraud. He launched a special task force to examine the issue of sexual assault evidence kits that law enforcement had never submitted to the state crime lab for analysis, he provided state-of-the-art investigation tools to his agents, and he continues to serve as an appointed member of the Public Safety Standards and Training (POST) Council where he leads a subcommittee tasked with making recommendations to sanction officers who fail to uphold POST standards.

The Montana Board of Crime Control honored John Strandell with the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award during the June 10th Board Meeting. Former Attorney General Tim Fox, who nominated John for the prestigious award, spoke to the impeccable character, unshakable calm demeanor, and exceptional leadership John displayed throughout his career. While Bryan Lockerby, Division Administrator for the Division of Criminal Investigation, was unable to make it in-person, he recorded a video congratulating John and thanking him for his contributions to public safety throughout Montana.

2020 Innovative Community Improvement Award Recipients

Gayle Butler,
Marisa Britton-Bostwick,
Teri Gochanour, and
The Montana Correctional Enterprises (MCE) CAMPP MT Team

2020 ICIA Winners
Teri Gochanour, Marisa Britton-Bostwick, and Brian Gootkin, Director of the Montana Department of Corrections and MBCC Board Member

Cynthia Wolken, Deputy Director of the Montana Department of Corrections, nominated Gayle Butler, Marisa Britton-Bostwick, Teri Gochanour, and the Montana Correctional Enterprises (MCE) CAMPP MT Team for the 2020 Innovative Community Improvement Award for their work on the Connecting Adults and Minors through Positive Parenting program. The CAMPP MT team reunites incarcerated fathers with their children through a 12-week evidence-based program that culminates with a three-day "camp." Marisa and Teri accepted the award on behalf of the MCE CAMPP MT Team. Brian Gootkin, Director of the Montana Department of Corrections and a member of the Board, congratulated the CAMPP MT Team for providing children of offenders a better chance to grow up at home with their families rather than in Montana's foster care system.

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