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Case: DOJ Investigation of Missoula Police Department

No Court

Filed Date: May 1, 2012

Closed Date: 2015

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 1, 2012, the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division ("Division") of the Department of Justice ("DOJ") opened a civil pattern or practice investigation of the Missoula Police Department ("MPD") under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, related to claims of gender bias in the Department's response to sexual assaults. (The Division also launched companion investigations of…

On May 1, 2012, the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division ("Division") of the Department of Justice ("DOJ") opened a civil pattern or practice investigation of the Missoula Police Department ("MPD") under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, related to claims of gender bias in the Department's response to sexual assaults. (The Division also launched companion investigations of the University of Montana-Missoula's Office of Public Safety and the University of Montana-Missoula itself and simultaneously investigated the Missoula County Attorney's Office. These are linked as "related cases," below.)

On May 15, 2013, the Division released a letter of findings outlining the results of its investigation. The findings letter identified numerous weaknesses in the MPD's investigations of sexual assault, including failure to properly collect evidence (including victim testimony); systematically discouraging victims from participating in investigations; insufficient communication with community partners (including the Missoula County Attorney's Office and medical staff); and inappropriate reliance on gender stereotypes. Overall, the investigation found that deficiencies in MPD's response to sexual assaults compromise the effectiveness of sexual assault investigations from the outset, make it more difficult to undercover the truth, and effectively deprived female sexual assault victims of basic legal protections.

Also on May 15, 2013, the MPD and DOJ entered into an agreement that resolved the Division's investigation and requires that the MPD implement or revise policies, provide training and change practices to improve its response to sexual assault, including combating gender bias; work with an independent reviewer, community-based organizations and other stakeholders, to develop and implement the reforms described in the agreement, and to evaluate OPS' success in effecting meaningful reform; demonstrate that its implementation of the agreement has eliminated a pattern or practice of constitutional violations and that it has put in place systems and oversight that will prevent patterns or practices of unconstitutional conduct from recurring; and develop procedures for gathering and analyzing data to assess the incidence and outcomes of reports of sexual assault. The City of Missoula ("City") agreed to pay all costs and fees associated with the independent reviewer, who is mandated to provide the City and MPD quarterly written, public reports.

Thomas T. Tremblay, the designated independent reviewer, submitted reports on progress under the agreement on November 6, 2013, June 10, 2014, November 6, 2014, and March 24, 2015. In May 2015, the independent reviewer issued his final report of sustained compliance, reporting that the MPD had reached compliance under all provisions of the agreement. The report noted that in the three-year period from 2012-2015, sexual assault reporting had increased by 54%, with community partners not seeing an equivalent increase, indicating (though not with certainty) that increased reporting to MPD was the result of increased public trust, not increased public activity. The report also found that the MPD had experienced an improvement in victim participation throughout the time period, with victim discontinuation down 16%.

The report also outlined a sustainment plan under which the maintain the investigative practices established through the agreement after DOJ oversight. The MPD agreed to continue in-service training on sexual assault and perform annual review of policies and procedures on sexual assault response. The agreement terminated with the final report, and the DOJ announced the MPD's full implementation of the agreement's requirements in a May 11, 2015 press release.

Summary Authors

Louisa Eberle (11/17/2013)

Heather Turner (5/4/2014)

Sarah McDonald (8/19/2018)

Related Cases

Department of Education OCR Title IX Investigation of University of Montana-Missoula, No Court (2012)

DOJ Investigation of University of Montana-Missoula's Office of Public Safety, No Court (2012)

Van Valkenburg v. County Attorney's Office for Missoula, District of Montana (2014)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)

Cotter, Michael W. (Montana)

Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)

Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia)

Mondino, Jennifer L. (District of Columbia)

Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

Trepel, Samantha Kay (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Karr, Stephanie E (Missouri)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Bomengen, Kristen F. (Alaska)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)

Cotter, Michael W. (Montana)

Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)

Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia)

Mondino, Jennifer L. (District of Columbia)

Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)

Trepel, Samantha Kay (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Karr, Stephanie E (Missouri)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Bomengen, Kristen F. (Alaska)

Tremblay, Thomas R. (Vermont)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Dep't of Just. and the City of Missoula Re: the Missoula Police Dep't's Response to Sexual Assault

Missoula Police Department

May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013

Settlement Agreement

Findings Letter Re: The United States' Investigation of the Missoula Police Department

Missoula Police Department

May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013

Findings Letter/Report

Justice Department Reaches Settlement to Reform the Missoula, Mont. Police Department's Response to Sexual Assault

[Missoula Police Department]

May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013

Press Release

First Report of the Independent Reviewer

Missoula Police Department

Nov. 6, 2013

Nov. 6, 2013

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Second Report of the Independent Reviewer

DOJ investigation of Missoula Police Department

June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Third Report of the Independent Reviewer

Nov. 6, 2014

Nov. 6, 2014

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Fourth Report of the Independent Reviewer

March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Sustained Compliance Report

May 1, 2015

May 1, 2015

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Justice Department Announces Missoula Police Department Has Fully Implemented Agreement to Improve Response to Reports of Sexual Assault

[Missoula Police Department]

May 11, 2015

May 11, 2015

Press Release

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Montana

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 1, 2012

Closing Date: 2015

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Missoula Police Department (Missoula, Missoula), City

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, 34 U.S.C. § 12601 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 14141)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2013 - 2015

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Provide antidiscrimination training

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Failure to train

Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures

Pattern or Practice

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Affected Gender:

Female