Missoula Mayor Jon Engen Says City Will Pay Costs to Comply With Department of Justice Sexual Assault Compliance [AUDIO] [VIDEO]
Following a telephone based news conference in which the United States Attorney for the District of Montana Michael W. Cotter, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Roy L. Austin Jr., Missoula Mayor John Engen, and Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir announced a settlement with the City of Missoula and the Missoula Police Department, Mayor Jon Engen met with the media to answer more questions.
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NBC Montana reporter Emily Adamson asked Engen if the city would foot the cost of complying with the settlement with the Department of Justice.
“Absolutely”, Mayor Engen said in his office on Wednesday afternoon. “We anticipate that we’re going to pay for this. The preliminary numbers are not huge, and we believe we can certainly manage them within the police department’s budget, and if we need to go outside of that, we certainly will. The cost will be pretty modest in comparison to what we get out of the practices and training.”
Engen said the effort to comply with the settlement will begin as soon as possible.
“We’ve actually already implemented a number of these best practices policies and procedures just as a function of Chief Muir’s review,” Engen continued. “He met one of our trainers years ago and began implementing some of the practices that she recommended, so some of this is ongoing. We’re having conversations starting next week with regard to how we share some expenses, so I think we’re going to march ahead.”
Egnen was asked about the results of the recent Jordan Johnson trial, in which the young woman who made the accusation went through more than a year of an investigation and a trial, only to see a not guilty verdict, if that might make any other woman hesitant to come forward to report a sexual assault.
“We have begun to engage in what’s called a victim centered approach,” Engen said. “We take all of the needs and best interests of the victim to heart from the beginning of any investigation. We can’t go back and question the results of any particular case, but what I can tell you is that we are utterly committed to making sure that that victim is treated with respect, dignity and compassion, and that her needs are met no matter what she decides her course of action will be.”
Engen referenced the city’s relationship with Missoula County Attorney, Fred van Valkenburg.
“To the degree that its possible, we want to make sure that our hand-off to the Missoula County Attorney’s office is gentle and that we maintain high levels of communication, so that any victim of sexual assault has the confidence that she ought to call 9-1-1, and ought to become engaged with the Missoula Police Department,” Engen said.”I find the county attorney to be a reasonable and thoughtful public servant, who will certainly be open to us talking about anything that helps victims in our community.”
Missoula Mayor Jon Engen