ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Sexual violence affects millions of Americans but it’s one of the most underreported crimes out there. Officials estimate only one of every six victims actually report the crime to police. The Rochester Police Policy Oversight Commission met with the chief Monday night to talk about the departmental response to sexual assault.
“These are very complex cases and they’re very sensitive cases, and you have to take a very empathetic compassionate approach,” said Chief Jim Franklin of the Rochester Police Dept.
Franklin says an investigator reviews every sexual assault case. An officer conducts an interview with the victim to gather as much information as possible. Then officers encourage a hospital visit for a sexual assault examination. Once the kit is processed, it goes to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for DNA testing. The victim is then interviewed again at a later date.
Chief Franklin applauds his department’s response to taking a trauma-informed based approach.
“We are a leader in that category,” he said.
A report by the former Minnesota Attorney General outlined seven recommendations to law enforcement agencies statewide. Chief Franklin says his department meets all but “drawing guidance from outside review organizations.”
“There is no external entity that is doing that.”
Plans are underway to bring something called Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview training to the police department this summer. It prepares officers to deal with trauma victims.
“We would be the first agency in the state to host that locally. Usually, you have to fly somebody out to Colorado or someplace else,” said Franklin.
In Rochester, sexual assault response is part of officer training but because of it’s tragic and traumatic nature, the department holds ongoing refresher courses to improve officer response. Franklin says since he stepped in as Chief last year, he mandated a mandatory sexual assault response refresher course, which half of the department has already completed.
“To make sure that we have the best most comprehensive policy possible driving our officers out on the street.”
The police oversight commission formed sub-committee during the meeting. The group will go present recommendations to Chief Franklin at their next meeting in March.