Editorial: MPD continues to underserve, misunderstand victims of sexual assault

The Minneapolis Police Department needs to do more for victims of sexual assault, including completing adequate training.

by Daily Editorial Board

Following an attempted sexual assault attack on a University of Minnesota student last Friday, a Minneapolis Police Department Public Information Officer stated in a press conference that the victim “wasn’t willing to just shut up and go along with it.” We believe this statement is a grave misunderstanding of the realities of sexual assault and implies there are victims who are willing to “shut up and go along with it.” We believe this to be both dangerous and unnerving, in that those who are supposed to protect and get justice for sexual assault victims seem to be perpetuating a victim-blaming culture. 

After the Minneapolis woman was grabbed and pulled into a bush on 8th Street Southeast in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, she was able to fight back and got away. However, this may not be the case for many sexual assault victims. “Denied Justice,” an investigative series from the Star Tribune, reports on how victims of sexual assault are failed in Minnesota.

The series has reported that MPD is under-trained and thinly staffed, leading to hundreds of cases in which detectives have failed to question suspects or collect evidence. The Minnesota police licensing board offers nearly 50 classes on sexual assault investigation, but only 0.002 percent of officers across the state have taken one single class.

In 2016, MPD had eight sex crime detectives and 412 cases, meaning that one detective was assigned to 52 cases. Conversely, homicide cases assigned one detective for every 16 cases. This startling difference is one in a long string of neglecting sexual assault cases on the part of MPD. Sexual assault cases, like other violent crimes, require time, effort, resources and a specific skill set. However, MPD is continuously dismissing these victims and neglecting their crimes.

The spokesman also stated that, “It’s frustrating to do all the steps and take all the measures that you take and have this happen.” However, based on the Star Tribune’s reporting, it is obvious that MPD has not taken every step possible in preventing sexual assault from occurring. These statements show clear lack of empathy and neglect for victims of sexual assault, which is problematic in itself. 

Though MPD has taken a step in the right direction by implementing a policy that prevents officers from citing sexual assault reporters for minor offenses, sexual assault victims are still consistently underserved by Minneapolis officers and detectives. MPD needs to make use of the resources provided by the state and must offer adequate training to their officers and detectives. Without the correct training, victims of sexual assault will continue to be underserved and misunderstood. We want to make this very clear: no victim is willing, and no victim is shutting up and no victim is just going along with it.