Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Milwaukee Police Response To Sexual Assault Failures and Improvement Plan

Many times the failures in how sex crime victims are treated by investigators aren't acknowledged as real problems until those problems are associated to the mishandling of victims who turned out to be linked to a serial sex criminal. That seems to be the case in Milwaukee.

A new assessment on Milwaukee sex assault advocacy was released this week. It was compiled by the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, The Healing Center and Aurora Healthcare. The report reveals some victims feel officers treat them with suspicion. [...]

Also this week, prosecutors charged 36-year-old Gregory Below with attacking, raping and torturing seven women. Some of his alleged victims claim officers downplayed their abuse.

In response to the serial rape case and broader assessment report, [Milwaukee Wisconsin Police Chief Edward] Flynn announced Friday that all officers will undergo sex assault sensitivity education during their annual in-service training days.
At the beginning of this story Flynn stated in a press conference that "training may not be where it needs to be." This choice to not acknowledge this as a clear failure in how investigators are trained is a problem. If something is only maybe a problem then the design of the solution is more likely to be ineffective.

When the police fail victims in the way they treat those victims most of the time the honesty of the victim is viewed as in doubt because that failure results in a lack of investigation and therefore a lack of proof of the perpetrator's guilt.

Most victim complaints will therefore be discounted by those who view investigator treatment of victims as a way to separate true victims from fake victims or who view this as a way of deciding whether a sex crime is likely to be winnable in court. The problem with this view is the failure to link how investigators treat different victims with the outcomes of those cases.

When victims don't report or stop cooperating they are too often blamed by police who represent agencies which allow investigators to repel victims from reporting and to repel victims from trusting investigators after the initial report. This type of victim blaming endangers public safety even when it doesn't help a serial rapist continue raping. When potential sex criminals believe that their potential victims will be be treated poorly by the police they will be more likely to cross the line from potential criminal to real criminal.

For effective change to be a priority those in charge need to understand that a lack of training or bad training of investigators on how they interact with those who report sex crimes is linked to public safety whether that link is measurable or not.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:26 AM   0 comments links to this post


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