Responding to the Daniel Holtzclaw case: Demands for Action from the African American Policy Forum
In order to address the complex nature of gender based violence, strategies must be specifically tailored to reporting sexual assault, investigating sexual offenses and misconduct by law enforcement, and responding to domestic violence.
Reporting sexual assault
Officers should recognize the impact of trauma on victims of sexual assault and first and foremost attend to the victim’s immediate health and safety concerns
Reports should be thorough with a high level of detail in order to overcome consent challenges and move the case towards prosecution
When interviewing victims, officers should carefully explain all processes of the investigation in order to create transparency
Investigating sexual misconduct by law enforcement
Agencies must enforce zero tolerance sexual offense policies that support victims and provide an environment in which a victim can feel safe to report
Investigations must be victim-centered, comprehensive, transparent, and accessible
Departments should employ early intervention systems to monitor, identify and prevent problem behavior by collecting data on each officer in order to detect suspicious trends
Departments must report reasons for the termination or resignation of an accused officer who has engaged in misconduct--failure to do so may result in the officer being hired by another agency in the state that is unaware of the problems in the prior department
Responding to domestic violence
All officers should receive annual in-service training on domestic violence to inform officers of domestic violence laws, departmental policies and procedures, dynamics of domestic violence, and investigative techniques
Departments must include procedures for handling child witnesses, officer-involved domestic violence, juvenile suspects, non-English speaking suspects, and military suspect
Officers should conduct safety planning with the victim and provide him or her with referral information to community services at the scene of a domestic incident, including local advocacy programs, shelters, and hotlines
Agencies should partner with victim advocate groups that can use their expertise in domestic violence to train department personnel
August 2014. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in the US: A Human Rights Based Approach and Practice Guide. http://web.law.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/microsites/human-rights-institute/files/dv_sa_hr_guide_reduce.pdf
International Association of Chiefs of Police, Investigating Sexual Assaults Model Policy (2005).
International Association of Chiefs of Police, Addressing Sexual Offenses and Misconduct by Law Enforcement: Executive Guide (2011).
North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, Domestic Violence: Best Practices for Law Enforcement Response (1998).
National Criminal Justice Reference Service. Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence Calls for Service (2006).
International Association of Chiefs of Police, Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence: A Law Enforcement Officer’s Guide to Enforcing Orders of Protection Nationwide (2006).