Under new chief Mike Brady, the Missoula Police Department has established a "Special Victims Unit" that will handle crimes against children and families. 

Detective Katie Petersen was in the KGVO Radio studio on Thursday, April 3, as part of a panel discussing the prevention of child abuse when she made the announcement.

"The Missoula Police Department has just formed a new Special Victims Unit," Petersen said. "We've got an extremely proactive chief, along with our captain. This new unit investigates child sexual abuse, child physical abuse, internet crimes against children, domestic violence, the sexual and violent offender registry will be managed out of this team, and we also investigate adult sexual violence."

Petersen said the newly formed team was moving into their new office on Thursday.

Petersen said the creation of the unit was not mandated by the department's agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, but will meet many of its recommendations.

"My supervisors took a look at how other communities deal with sexual violence in their communities, and felt this would be a good unit for Missoula to have," Petersen said. "We'd have a better team response to deal with crimes the citizens of Missoula are enduring, and it's best practice right now. The department wants to be on the cutting edge of how we can best serve our community as police."

Petersen said five detectives and a sergeant are assigned to the new unit, about average for a community and a police department the size of Missoula.

Missoula Police Detective Katie Petersen