Missoula Police Chief Reflects on One-Year Anniversary of Justice Department Investigation [AUDIO]
On May 1, 2012, Thomas Perez with the U. S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division held a news conference to announce an investigation into sexual assaults on the UM campus and in the city of Missoula.
Police Chief Mark Muir said Wednesday, his department had already begun their own inquiry before government officials arrived in Missoula.
“The Missoula Police Department had been working to address some issues approximately five months prior to the Department of Justice coming to town,” Muir said. “We had identified issues such as improvements needed in training, particularly with respect to communicating with victims, along with new policies that we already had in place by the time they got here.”
Muir said the number of sexual assault reports has decreased over the past few months, but that may not necessarily be good news.
“Sexual violence is one of the most under-reported crimes, and so there’s no certain conclusion we can draw from the fact that numbers are down,” Muir said.
The Jordan Johnson rape trial brought national publicity to Missoula and to the young woman who made the accusation. Muir acknowledges that other women, seeing what she went through with the trial and the not-guilty verdict, might be hesitant to report a sexual assault.
“It was essentially was every victim’s worst nightmare,” Muir said. “With the attacks upon her own character, and all the publicity that surrounded the Johnson trial, that might have a chilling effect, but we hope not. Every case has to be decided on it’s own particular set of facts, and when those facts are then presented to a jury, we hope that in the cases to come that we will see convictions.”
Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir