Remarks as prepared for delivery
Good morning--my name is Michael Cotter, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana. We are here today to provide an update on the progress of various agreements entered into between the Department of Justice, the Missoula Police Department, the University of Montana and the University of Montana Police Department to ensure prompt, fair and effective responses to reports of sexual assault. With me today, sharing the podium, my colleague Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Also, at the podium are four of Missoula’s community leaders who I have gotten to know very well over the last several years. I respect these men immensely. These leaders have shown great courage implementing necessary changes in sexual assault policies and training here in Missoula. They are "true agents of change" because each recognized that the old way of investigating sexual assault, was not the best way. Today, under new protocols, victims are heard, they are not blamed and they are no longer stereotyped. These 4 leaders worked together to ensure through new comprehensive policies implemented by Missoula PD, U of Montana, U of M PD that law enforcement and the University community will no longer fail victims of sexual assault of Missoula, but these new policies will benefit all victims and enhance public safety. Today, Missoula, as a community, is safer. I am proud to share this podium with:
John Engen, Mayor of the City of Missoula; Mike Brady, Chief of the Missoula Police Department; Mike Colyer, Captain of the Missoula Police Department; Royce Engstrom, President of the University of Montana.
One thing I have learned about these leaders--they love this town and they love this community as much as its citizens love Missoula. Over the last couple of years, together they worked tirelessly to bring needed reform to how sexual assaults are investigated by law enforcement in this community.
Because of the vision, the diligent work and the unwavering resolve of your community leaders, Missoula is in a different place—it is a safer and stronger community.
It goes without saying that rape is a horribly violent crime with devastating consequences to the victim. Whether the rape is committed by an acquaintance or stranger, victims find themselves in a very, very dark place. When the Department of Justice demonstrated that gender bias was undermining Missoula’s law enforcement response to sexual assault, both the Missoula Police and University of Montana immediately agreed to a broad set of fundamental changes that began to dramatically improve their ability to protect victims of sexual assault. These reforms have made the Missoula Police Department more accountable, transparent and credible. With accountability, transparency and credibility comes community trust. Today, the Missoula Police Department is stronger and trusted. Indeed, Missoula is a model for every town in this nation to emulate.
Before turning the podium over to others, I want to thank all the survivors of sexual assault who have shown the profound strength and courage to step forward and speak out to make sure all sexual assault victims are protected by the laws. Also, I want to commend Mayor Engen, Chief Brady, Captain Mike Colyer, the men and women in the Missoula Police Department, President Engstrom, all university personnel, and all the community partners, who worked tirelessly to effect the necessary changes in the culture of this community and who worked so hard to make Missoula a safer place. You all have much to be proud of, through your efforts, you have fostered a community of trust.