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With a Web site, posters, radio spots and billboards the Missoula Police Department and community partners are campaigning to stop bias, and report it when it occurs. The effort has its roots in the work of a Missoula Police officer who reached out to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community in Missoula after some gays -- and young men and women perceived to be gay -- were savagely beaten in unprovoked attacks. The officer drew up a form for reporting hate crimes and bias, said Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir.

Stop Bias, says Missoula Police with New Campaign

With a Web site, posters, radio spots and billboards the Missoula Police Department and community partners are campaigning to stop bias, and report it when it occurs.

The effort has its roots in the work of a Missoula Police officer who reached out to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community in Missoula after some gays — and young men and women perceived to be gay — were savagely beaten in unprovoked attacks. The officer drew up a form for reporting hate crimes and bias, said Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir.

In those early days, the department received two complaints, but since then, none.

“We had a concern that that happens when something isn’t well enough known,” Muir said.

Sgt. Casey Richardson and Spider McKnight of the local ad agency Salt Studio, as well as others, raised money, built a Web site and otherwise pushed forward the idea of publicizing the department’s efforts to bring bias out of the dark. In the end, the group raised $12,000 to fund an advertising campaign.

“We’re looking forward to improved reporting on these issues,” Muir said.

Gender issues were a focus of the most recent campaign. Muir said the departments wants to address racial bias, too.

“That’s what we’re leaning toward tackling, as a bias. We want to make sure we’re rounding the bases to fight these bias issues,” Muir said.

That’s why this city-wide effort is so great, Muir said. For publicizing public campaigns, the department’s budget is about zero.

“It’s unconventional for a city of a law enforcement body to do something like this. The biggest obstacle would be the financial side of it,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the community.”

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Comments

  1. j.a.m. says:

    “We want to make sure we’re rounding the bases to fight these bias issues,” Muir said.

    That’s the most chilling Orwellian statement I’ve heard in a while.

    Sorry, but the police force’s job is to prevent violence, not “bias”. It is blatantly unconstitutional for a government agency to define “bias”, much less try to suppress it.

    If the real purpose of this effort is to prevent violence against any and all citizens, then that is all to the good. However, if the purpose is promote or suppress an ideology, that is repugnant to the principles of a free society. Likewise, it is unacceptable for the police who are charged with protecting all citizens to declare any individual or group more deserving of protection than others.

  2. Janet Born says:

    The facts are Missoula is a predominantly white, heterosexual town that has chosen to extend a leveling support system to those who are oppressed or persecuted. Those individuals who are markedly “different” suffer prejudicial bias and violence to a far greater extent than the predominant race. The definition of unconstitutional would have to go back to who is a citizen and what is a free person? One would have to consider if the Emancipation Act and if the government outlined a policy for protecting slaves that were free from being victimized due to a predominant opinion of a community that they were property as unconstitutional — I think not. The facts are these type of crimes are hate crimes that are based on the perpetrators skewed reality on who deserves equality or freedom. Education and intolerance of such ideas backed by our police chief is outstanding. Your words, J.A.M., make the words of American poet, Librarian of Congress, and assistant secretary of state, Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982), despondently echo in the hollow halls of the American citadel: “Once you permit those who are convinced of their own superior rightness to censor and silence and suppress those who hold contrary opinion, just at that moment the citadel has been surrendered. For the American citadel is a man. Not man in general. Not man in the abstract. Not the majority of men. But man. That man. His worth. His uniqueness.”