Changes to rules on how Cleveland police respond to reports of sexual assault make some improvements but don’t go far enough, public-safety experts who examined the new policies tell the Plain Dealer. The new police policy was created after study and numerous suggestions by a special mayor’s commission created after the arrest of serial-killings suspect Anthony Sowell and complaints about how the Cleveland Police Department handled reports by women who said he had assaulted them.
The changes update a nearly decade-old policy and include basic things such as requiring all sexual-assault reports to be taken. It also now acknowledges that police should show a heightened sensitivity to victims’ trauma and calls for advising that specially trained sexual-assault nurses and advocates are available for them. Experts in police policy and sexual-assault investigations said that more could be done. Some argued that the department still needed to create a cohesive document that defines step-by-step responsibilities for dispatchers, officers and detectives who interact with victims in their most vulnerable moments — so that everyone is on the same page.