For the first time, police departments across Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County have the chance to all follow the same rules when investigating sex crimes, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. A policy put together after months of work by police, prosecutors, nurses, and victim advocates will be unveiled at a news conference today. The collaboration took off at the urging of County Executive Ed FitzGerald after the Plain Dealer reported that the majority of police departments in the county — 46 of 59 — did not have a stand-alone policy for investigating sex crimes and that among those that did, the procedures varied widely.
Yet to be seen is how many of the cities, villages, townships, and other law enforcement agencies will embrace the recommended policy, which in 11 pages outlines steps for responding to a report of sexual assault. The policy covers such topics as which area hospitals are best suited to treat victims and collect evidence and how to gather information sensitively from victims who have undergone a traumatic attack. The policy also suggests that reports should be made on all sexual assaults. The Cuyahoga County Police Chiefs Association has approved the guidelines.