Missoula Police Chief – Sexual Assault Reports Soar After Department of Justice Agreement [AUDIO]
It's a phenomenon Missoula Police Chief doesn't understand, that is why reports of sexual assaults have soared since the city signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, who took the city to task on the subject in an investigation that lasted nearly a year.
"What I can share is the lack of understanding at this point," Muir said. "We have seen a significant increase in the number of cases of sexual intercourse without consent being reported to us since this agreement was signed. Its just kind of blown everybody away. We don't know what to attribute it to. It's sort of the opposite of what both the Department of Justice, ourselves and other experts anticipated. In fact, since the 15th of May, we've had as many reported to us as last year, and more than the year before."
Muir said that statistic is a sharp contrast to what happened immediately after the not guilty verdict in the Jordan Johnson rape trial earlier this year.
"From the time of the verdict to about a week after the agreement was signed, I don't believe we had a single case involving adult victims, but since May 15th, at last count we've had 27 reports," Muir said.
The chief believes the situation is serious enough to assign many of the day-to-day duties of his office to other senior personnel, while he applies himself to the task of implementing the Department of Justice agreement.
"The project that I'm working on for building a foundation for this Department of Justice agreement is intended to be short term, but one that I feel is critical to building on to the existing foundation of professionalism that exists here at the police department," Muir said. "So, I'm focusing my attention on that because there is so much of it that requires working closely with the many partners that the police department has developed over the years, and as I finish up my time here, I want to make every effort that I personally can to ensure that those relationships are intact, fruitful and effective in helping the department move forward."
Muir maintains that the police department had already been doing a good job of investigating sexual assaults, and resisted the charge in the Department of Justice report that the department showed gender bias in some cases.
"Oh, I certainly think we were doing OK on our own," Muir stated firmly. " Had the federal government decided to invest $100,000 in offering us assistance to achieve the goals that I laid out in January, then we would already have all of this done and would have saved everybody a lot of money in the process. But, that isn't what happened, so we just have to move forward, stay positive and make the most of what we've got."
Muir is planning on retiring from the police force in December.