Officials from the U.S. Justice Department, the Montana U.S. Attorney and city and police leaders were on hand Monday to announce that the Missoula Police Department has fully implemented the requirements within its agreement with the DOJ regarding its response to sexual assaults.

Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division praised all the officials involved with completing the steps required under the agreement.

"Our agreement with the Missoula Police Department following our investigation into the handling of sexual assault complaints made by women in Missoula has been a catalyst for powerful changes in both the law enforcement and the community's coordinated response to sexual assault," Gupta said.  "We are grateful for the efforts of MPD and the entire Missoula community because, as a result of these reforms, the women of Missoula are safer, more trusting of the criminal justice system, and subject to more fair and respectful treatment by local law enforcement. Missoula's police department had the courage and leadership to acknowledge that it had a problem and to address it, and as a result, is poised to become a model for communities struggling with these issues around the country."

U.S. Attorney for Montana Michael Cotter was also complementary towards the Missoula Police Department.

"We commend the Missoula Police Department and the city of Missoula for the leadership and commitment that they have demonstrated to transform the way in which their city police department responds to reports of sexual assault," Cotter said.  "We also recognize and appreciate the hard work that the detectives and officers of the Missoula Police Department have put into carrying out these reforms.  In so doing, they have carried out the highest ideals of public service, making the safety and civil rights of their community a top priority, and their efforts should be an inspiration to us all."

Gupta said the University of Montana has agreements with both the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education.

"Although there is still work to be done under the agreements and towards our collective goal of a safe and supporting campus for all students, the University has made significant changes that inspire confidence in its effectual lasting reforms," Gupta said. "We feel confident that the University, including its campus police, will also successfully acheive compliance with the DOJ agreement. We will continue to work cooperatively with the University as it implements the agreement and continues to strengthen its response to sexual assault and harassment."

Also on the dais were Missoula Mayor John Engen, Missoula Police Chief Michael Cotter, Missoula Police Captain Mike Colyer and UM President Royce Engstrom.

Notably not a part of the presentation was newly elected Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, who was in the audience. KGVO News will feature an interview with Ms. Pabst in a story later Monday afternoon.

The agreement with the Missoula Police Department was entered into in May, 2013, and was due to expire on May 15, 2015, so the recognition comes four days early.


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