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Missoula Police to Teach Bystander Intervention at Downtown Bar [AUDIO]

Jamie Merifield
photo courtesy of MPD

Teaching bartenders and servers how to intervene in a situation where someone might be sexually assaulted, or ‘bystander intervention’, will be the topic on Monday, April 14, at the Rhino in downtown, Missoula.

Missoula Police Detective Jamie Merifield has taken the bystander intervention training.

“I was sent to some training about a month ago on bystander intervention, and the idea behind it is to try to influence bystanders who are willing to intervene in a positive way when necessary,” Merifield said. “We’re trying to get the message out in different ways, and this program at the Rhino on Monday is a first step.”

Merifield said the training is targeted specifically to help ward off a possible sexual assault situation.

“What our training specifically talked about was intervening in things like sexual assault,” Merifield said. “When you see someone in trouble, the training helps you to intervene, and not just turn a blind eye. Most people would want to help, they just don’t know how. They might feel that intervening might be dangerous to them, or they feel they have no authority to do so. Another situation might be that you’re with your family and you don’t want to expose your children to any possible violence. Or, they may just think it’s none of their business.”

Merifield said Monday’s session at the Rhino will look back at some real-life situations.

“We’ll be giving some real-life cases, and letting the audience decide how they could intervene, or even if they could intervene,” Merifield said. “We’re starting in bars, because bartenders and servers see so much, and they tend to be the responsible, sober parties when potential situations are happening. It’ll be a two-hour training at the Rhino.”

Merifield referenced the recent national attention on Missoula and the University of Montana over the last two years regarding sexual assaults.

“The University of Montana, the community and the police department have been criticized over how they’ve responded to sexual assaults in the past, and we’re making very positive changes. Bystander intervention is a positive change that the entire community can get involved in.”

Missoula Police Detective Jamie Merifield

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