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Minneapolis police roll out new policy for handling sexual assault investigations

April 03, 2019 06:11 PM

The Minneapolis Police Department is rolling out a new policy meant to transform the way the department handles sexual assault investigations.

“It's really a paradigm shift for us for how we've done these cases in the past," Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said.

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Previously, when a sexual assault report was made, the department handled it much like they would any other case - with officers asking quick questions trying to get straight to the facts. 

But Arradondo and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced new protocols Wednesday that require officers to take a much gentler, more compassionate approach with survivors of sexual assault.

They said the new policy incorporates both POST Board and Attorney General taskforce recommendations. They’ve also consulted with survivors and victim advocates.

RELATED: Minneapolis officials announce new sexual assault investigation policy

Abby Honold was sexually assaulted after a tailgate at the University of Minnesota in 2014. She said she felt re-traumatized by her interview with investigators at the Minneapolis Police Department.

“He was leaning way back, with his arms crossed like that, and kept looking at the ceiling," she said. "It kept looking like he was bored. If I did start to think of something, he would interrupt and cut me off.

"By the end of the interview, he had missed more than half of what had happened, including some of the more serious violence that had occurred.”

RELATED: New law enforcement guidelines in sexual assault cases unveiled

Honold said she is encouraged by the implementation of the new policy, which holds investigators to higher standards.

“Our new policy is built on compassion, responsiveness and accountability,” Frey said. “It’s not a cure-all. But it is an essential step.”

Other changes in department policy include responding more quickly when a sexual assault call comes in and conducting victim interviews in welcoming environments while allowing them to share at their own pace, recognizing it may not always be in a linear fashion.

The department has also hired a full-time sexual assault survivor advocate to work in the sex crimes unit.

The department said it gets about 700 reports of forcible rape every year. From now on, every officer will go through a four-hour training session to help them develop a more victim-centered, trauma-informed approach.

"I want all survivors to be treated with respect,” Honold said, “And I hope every sex crimes investigator really takes this policy to heart."
 

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Alex Jokich

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