MISSOULA LAW ENFORCEMENT
Missoula Police Department
Missoula County Sheriff
The Missoula Police Department and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office are committed to providing effective, efficient, compassionate and confidential service to sexual assault victims. We understand the complexity of these cases and the resulting physical and emotional trauma caused to victims. The law enforcement response is designed to address the safety, welfare and recovery of the victim and to ensure public safety, preserve evidence, and identify and prosecute the offender.
Duties, responsibilities and actions are the same no matter whether the responding officer is with the Missoula Police or the county Sheriff. The difference is one of where the alleged crime happened, whether it was inside or outside the city’s geographic boundary. (When first calling 911, the 911 dispatcher will determine the appropriate officer to send.)
- Initial Response: Law enforcement officers are available 24 hours every day for emergency and nonemergency response to reports of sexual assault.
- Initial contact with the victim or third-party reporter.
- Initial contact can be made in the manner / location requested.
- Identify witnesses, secure the crime scene and preserve evidence.
- Identify, locate, detain or arrest suspect based on evidence.
- Assisting Victim: Law enforcement officers will show understanding, patience and respect for the victim’s dignity to establish trust and rapport.
- Facilitate emergency medical attention if required.
- Facilitate the presence of a crime victim advocate if desired.
- Explain the options and resources available to the victim.
- Provide victims with printed resources and contact numbers.
- Preliminary Interview: If the victim is ready and willing, the first responding police officers will conduct a preliminary interview in order to obtain the basic information necessary to determine if a crime was committed and proper jurisdiction. Routine steps at this time may include the following:
- Obtain victim’s name and contact information.
- Obtain basic statement of what occurred and location of occurrence.
- Obtain description / location of physical evidence.
- Identity, description and location of the suspect and suspect vehicle.
- Obtain witness information.
- Victim willing, identify and photograph injuries resulting from the assault.
- Victim willing, the officer will facilitate a forensic exam at First Step for collection and preservation of forensic evidence.
- Officers will explain the roles of detectives, forensic examiners, evidence technicians and prosecutors in the subsequent process.
- Officers will advise the victim that evidence of injury may appear later and to contact the Missoula Police Department / Sheriff for additional photographs if/when this occurs.
- Advise the victim to report any new information to the Missoula Police Department / Sheriff.
- Provide the victim with report number and Missoula Police Department / Sheriff contact information.
- Officers will help in safety planning for the victim — the goal here to ensure the victim is now safe and will stay safe.
This information is documented in a report or confidential memo to establish a baseline for follow-up investigation.
- Follow-up Investigation: All felony sex offenses will be assigned to a detective for further investigation. This involves a detailed gathering of facts and the collation of information and evidence that are part of conducting a thorough investigation. Routine steps may include the following:
- Detailed interview with the victim.
- Liaison between victim and resources.
- Detailed interviews of witnesses.
- Detailed interviews / interrogation of suspects.
- Visual and forensic examination of evidence.
- Coordination with the prosecuting attorney.
- Keep the victim informed and involved.
- Documentation and preparation of a detailed case file.