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Case Name DOJ Investigation of Missoula Police Department PN-MT-0002
Docket / Court docket unknown ( No Court )
State/Territory Montana
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
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 ... read more >
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.

Louisa Eberle - 11/17/2013
Heather Turner - 05/04/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/19/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Failure to train
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 14141
Defendant(s) Missoula Police Department
Plaintiff Description Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2013 - 2015
Filing Year 2012
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PN-MT-0001 : DOJ Investigation of University of Montana-Missoula's Office of Public Safety (No Court)
ED-MT-0001 : University of Montana-Missoula (No Court)
CJ-MT-0003 : DOJ Investigation of Missoula County Attorney’s Office (D. Mont.)
Additional Resources
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  Data examining the Department of Justice's civil rights investigations of local and state police departments
Marshall Project
Date: Jan. 17, 2017
By: Tom Meagher (Marshall Project)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  An Interactive Guide to the Civil Rights Division’s Police Reforms
https://www.justice.gov/
Date: Jan. 4, 2017
By: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
Date: Apr. 21, 2015
By: Jon Krakauer
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
Date: 2014
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program Faculty)
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Findings Letter Re: The United States' Investigation of the Missoula Police Department
PN-MT-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2013
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
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
PN-MT-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2013
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Justice Department Reaches Settlement to Reform the Missoula, Mont. Police Department's Response to Sexual Assault
PN-MT-0002-0006.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 05/15/2013
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
First Report of the Independent Reviewer
PN-MT-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2013
Source: Defendant or Defendant's Counsel
Second Report of the Independent Reviewer
PN-MT-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/10/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Third Report of the Independent Reviewer
PN-MT-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Fourth Report of the Independent Reviewer
PN-MT-0002-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/24/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Sustained Compliance Report
PN-MT-0002-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Justice Department Announces Missoula Police Department Has Fully Implemented Agreement to Improve Response to Reports of Sexual Assault
PN-MT-0002-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 05/11/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Monitors/Masters Tremblay, Thomas R. (Vermont)
PN-MT-0002-0003 | PN-MT-0002-0007 | PN-MT-0002-0009 | PN-MT-0002-0010 | PN-MT-0002-0011
Plaintiff's Lawyers Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0002-0002 | PN-MT-0002-0006
Cotter, Michael W. (Montana)
PN-MT-0002-0001 | PN-MT-0002-0002 | PN-MT-0002-0005 | PN-MT-0002-0006
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0002-0005
Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0002-0002
Mondino, Jennifer L. (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0002-0002
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0002-0001 | PN-MT-0002-0002
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0002-0002
Trepel, Samantha Kay (District of Columbia)
PN-MT-0002-0002

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