Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced new guidance yesterday to help law enforcement prevent gender bias when responding to sexual assault and domestic violence incidents. hje Huffington Post reports. “We know that sometimes this bias, whether implicit or explicit, can stand in the way of effective law enforcement and can severely undermine law enforcement's ability to hold the offenders accountable,” Lynch said. “We have seen situations where false assumptions about things like alcohol use, or the physical strength of the victim's partner, or a victim's sexual orientation, can lead police officers to make judgments about the truthfulness or credibility of a survivor's account, or the severity of the assault.”
DOJ acknowledged that gender bias can result in police underreporting domestic violence and sexual assault cases, failing to test sexual assault kits, treating domestic violence as a family matter and not enforcing protection orders, among other issues. The guidance includes eight principles to guide police departments when responding to domestic violence or sexual assault cases: Recognize and address biases, assumptions and stereotypes about victims; treat all victims with respect and use interviewing tactics that encourage a victim to participate and provide facts about the incident; investigate sexual assault or domestic violence complaints thoroughly and effectively; appropriately classify reports of sexual assault or domestic violence; refer victims to appropriate services; properly identify the assailant; hold officers who commit sexual assault or domestic violence accountable, and maintain, review and act on data regarding sexual assault and domestic violence.