There are many investigative ideologies in the law enforcement community. Some of the investigative processes are different depending on the specificity of the community in which the law enforcement agency is responsible and accountable for. Each city has its own problems; thus they have a demand for specific responses. The agency is a representation of the leadership and community groups, including those who work in the criminal justice system. Inside of agencies, if there is no checks and balances, then injustices will occur.
In order to eliminate injustices, it is time for police agencies to accept new policing processes according to the specific problems at hand. Furthermore, if the law enforcement officers digress from the new policing processes to the old, then this digression will be clearly observed. A clear and observable line in the sand will be seen by the community due to the immediate decline – and repercussions to the declining officer – in the type of enforcement that was utilized.
Law Enforcement Community Failures
A community which has seen their law enforcement leadership fail over a significant amount of time will be in remembrance of the historical wrongdoings. The historical failures can be a roadmap for any community to acknowledge that when progress becomes a stronghold, law enforcement agencies can demonstrate that digression will not be tolerated.
Don’t Fall Prey To Digression
Law enforcement agencies sometimes fail to understand that not updating their flaws and weaknesses in the investigation of child sexual assaults, not only places the child at risk, but may cause a witness to be harmed, and the named suspect to be falsely accused. The demands of the job demand monthly education and training for those who are assigned to the Sexual Assault Unit. Additionally, the experienced and newly assigned investigators into the Unit must be careful in not allowing themselves to fall prey to digressing to old policing processes.
Enhancing Law Enforcement Skills
Intelligent and competent Law Enforcement CSA Officers whose skills are enhanced by the monthly training should either accept the new policing process and bring their concerns through the Chain of Command, advising them verbally and in writing of the reasons why the old is better than the new. Any setback must be addressed in a scientific manner – a methodology that also proves and shows the old is better than the new. Policing cannot be met with feeling; rather it must be met with facts on the best policing techniques. A shift is demanded to begin to address the CSA Unit with scientific reform. Alas, the entire police agency must consider new scientific reform. However, a digression exists. The emphasis is not on finding the most prevalent terms for policing processes. Instead, the emphasis has been put onto thought and feeling. Police units have addressed change in their thought to thinking about this, so they do not have to activate actual change.
Implementing New Policing Processes
The terms are very ‘political’ in process – delay true change by thinking over their problems endlessly. The results might be some ‘nice’ ideas, but a majority of results will be mediocre. It is time to implement the new policing processes without any digression. It is time for law enforcement agencies to step up and accept a commitment to excellence, or come forward and admit they are not prepared or willing to change. It is time for the shadows to be removed and let the community know what is happening.
Every police officer is suffering from their administration being unwilling to implement true change. While political games are being played, police officers are on the front lines untrained and inadequate for the many different situations they will face. Seasoned veterans will suffer due to a lack of constant training to reinforce their good habits, and instill even better habits. This institutes a culture of mediocrity – a culture that says good is good enough.
Police culture being ‘good enough’ is a death ticket – literally. One-half of a second behind in a reaction might place an innocent bystander, the officer, or a victim succumbing to death. Training will inherently improve the motivation and dedication of the police officer. The FBI discusses this in depth, linking constant motivation – hence, continual training – to remove the effects of ‘jaded’ police officers. Which brings up the next group of officers who suffer the most: rookie police officers. Young police officers coming from an academy look toward their veterans to establish the culture of a police unit. Should the jaded feeling permeate the culture of an agency, it is highly likely that policing updates will come in the form of thought alone, leaving behind new officers to stare blankly each day, resulting in a mundane attitude. And a mundane attitude is the beginning of complacent behavior that digresses new policing procedures.
Culture Of Complacency
In the span of moving forward with policing procedures, jaded officers have become comfortable with the status quo due to the fact they are comfortable operating in that spectrum. While that may seem obvious, it is the causation of this that has effected in the digression for what officers perceive as ‘less important units’ (although no unit is less important, we will dismiss this lie soon). Veteran police officers have perceived two effects growing over the past fifteen years in the new ‘terrorism era,' hence post 9/11. While officer safety may be on the rise, the impact of when violence does occur has extrapolated. Criminals and terrorists may be attacking less, but have perfected the ratio of damage, ensuring their attacks count. Thus, the danger to officers in perception has risen. So when police processes do evolve to the next level, it is not the scientific thought process that evolves, it is the technology that evolves before the officer’s thoughts do. This report from the National Institute of Justice demonstrates where the emphasis exists: bombs, protection, and mass casualties. There is no doubt this research is needed; every officer has the right to receive the most updated scientific technology in armor, recordings, safety, etc. However, it has come at the cost of putting the scientific thought process of officers to the back. Agencies have put their faith in the technology behind the officer, not in the officers themselves. Thus, units such as the Sexual Assault Units have taken a back seat due to violence and risk not being perceived from this section of policing. As a result, a culture of complacency has arisen in these units, resulting in children being neglected.
The Sexual Assault Unit is a precise and thoughtful unit, demanding the most intellectually competent officers. (Not to say other units are not intellectually demanding. SAU investigators simply cannot rely on technology to solve their crimes. For example, the SWAT unit relies upon their intellectual competence combined with advanced technology to complete their job. The point is that SAU investigators rely on their mind as their essential tool for success.) Naturally, to be intellectually competent officers, constant training must occur to refine and improve the investigative process. If it has not been emphasized enough already, one more time: complacency results in dangerous failure. The jaded edge of an agencies’ culture begins with older investigators and carries over to complacent investigators as they begin their tenure in the SAU.
Many law enforcement agencies fail to promote “Mentorship Programs” for specialized Units, such as the Sexual Assault Units. When an officer is educated and trained, he will take the necessary steps to implement what he has learned on everyday tasks. However, without an established mentorship program, new SAU investigators will never learn – even from the jaded, experienced officers. SAU investigators coming into their unit for the first time will immediately recognize that something is amiss in their new assignment, feeling isolated that their unit is ‘second in training.'
Mentorship programs would reverse this effect, instead of establishing motivation to new officers that their unit is just as meaningful as the violent crimes or terrorism unit. Mentorship instills comradery, and comradery brings about discussion and pride in the unit at hand. A result is a unit of officers who begin to discuss their problems and come up with actual solutions. Solutions are derived to constantly evolve the thought process, methodologies to make the investigative process more efficient. It all begins with the willingness to teach.
The factor of continued education – or lack thereof – then extrapolates to the lack of experience. Without an emphasis on dedication being distributed toward the SAU, investigators do not seek to stay in the unit and become experts. Yes, it is a mentally demanding unit to be involved with due to the nature of sexual and physical assaults. However, it is currently treated as a “stepping-stone,” a way to improve your career to the “more important units.” The result is SAU investigators have no experience and dedicated training. If training does occur, it is tasked toward other units with the hope of arriving there. Being an SAU investigator is perceived not as a destination, rather just a complacent moment in the career of a detective.
To resolve such complacency, the administration must take an approach to the SAU even before police officers are seeking to choose which unit he will request assignment. The administration must apply training techniques for the thought process to police officers beginning in the police academy. Thus, when officers see an opportunity to become involved in the SAU, they are excited to join such an important unit of investigation. The administration takes responsibility for establishing officers to want to become experienced in the SAU.
Psychology Of A Victim
Inside of the specific of being an SAU investigator, understanding the psychology of a victim is of the utmost importance. The investigative process of SAU units begins with the development of the “origin of disclosure” of the allegation. To develop a case correctly, investigators must take these allegations from a potentially traumatized victim, dissecting any and all disclosures, and develop a hypothesis on the facts within. The truth is children will develop their allegations different from adults. Furthermore, children are easily influenced due to whom they make the “origin of disclosure” to and the trauma they receive. A child’s mind is a developing maze, and sorting that maze demands investigators being properly trained in ways that they are not being trained today. The result has been a complete failure to understand the cognitive process of victims, the very process that investigations are built upon.
Identifying The Cognitive Processes Of A Victim
A lack of understanding of the cognitive process for victims has resulted in investigators becoming either lazy or fundamentally misunderstanding their investigative goals. This goes back to the training that has put SAU investigators as the victim advocate instead of the neutral fact finder. Without understanding how to neutrally sort through allegations, the resolve is to simply advocate for the victim, conducting victim-centered investigations, leading to possible confabulation on the part of the victim if they are a child. Without training, law enforcement officers resort to a paradigm in their investigations that seek to help the alleged victim and attack the alleged perpetrator. Investigation in this paradigm hurts the alleged child victim by confabulating their mind and confirming memories that may not be entirely true. There have been cases when a child was assaulted, but the assault was completed by someone else other than the alleged perpetrator. Despite the assault occurring in the dark or shadows, the child assumed the identity of a suspect. However, the officer was not able to pick up on this cognitive error of the child, simply assuming the child was one-hundred percent accurate. Furthermore, this lazy victim-centered attitude hurts those who have been falsely accused. Not all sexual assault allegations are true, and the SAU investigator must be able to neutrally put aside emotion and address those false allegations to put the appropriate time toward true allegations. However, without complete training, officers will be overtaxed in such a position and fail to properly address all of their cases.
New Orleans Police Department – Example
New Orleans Police Department is a prime example of a department that had utterly failed sexual assault victims, and took action to increase the training and emphasis on each investigator’s role. NOPD was the subject of a report from the inspector general with the emphasis laying on overworked and undertrained employees. To fix this, the NOPD has instituted thirty-two hours of mandatory continual training a month for the SAU along with added incentive pay to keep officers in the SAU. Furthermore, an evolved level of case follow-up has been implemented to help maintain integrity in the cases worked. As cases move along with the legal system, NOPD has instituted a new methodology to ensure these cases are responded to. Before these reforms, it was estimated that one detective might have sixty cases. The limit now is twenty-six. The immediate results were more reports and cases flowing in. About fifty more cases (ninety-eight compared to one-hundred and fifty-two) came in during the first half of 2015. Police officers were able to understand the trauma of victims and then use that training to move through cases with efficiency.
Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department – Example
In 2013 The Guardian reported on a Human Rights Watch report of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police that an estimated thirty-seven percent of sexual assaults and rape cases included no follow-up. The report indicates a unilateral problem – police attitude does not understand the seriousness to the Sexual Assault Unit demands due to a lack of training. Across the nation the Human Rights Watch group found a disturbing trend among police departments “shelving” sexual assault and rape cases. “Shelving” a case is not a dismissal due to unfounded claims, but rather a dismissal from the beginning of the case with little investigation done. Therefore, SAU investigators are setting aside cases without due diligence. Yes, some cases will be disregarded and shelved due to an immediate insight that the rape or sexual assault allegation is false. However, the statistics show a high number of cases being shelved without any follow up. Even if an allegation may appear false, there is a demand to at least follow up and ensure consistency or inconsistency.
Shelving Sexual Assault Cases – Statistical Data
The statistics demonstrated a national average of six percent of cases being shelved. Nationally, this is an acceptable number. However, the staggering and disturbing trends are found in some of the largest police units across the nations. Atlanta – twenty-four percent; Jersey City – Eighteen percent; San Bernardino – Thirty-four percent; Durham – Thirty-one percent; New Orleans – fifty percent. So where should the numbers lie? Anywhere between five percent and ten percent is safe. Too high, and negligence in finishing investigations is evident. Too low, (such as Houston at only two percent) and the SAU demonstrates evidence of being too overzealous in investigating every single case. This brings forward concern that SAU investigators are possibly playing a victim-centered investigative role and then overloading themselves with too many cases, leading to each case not receiving investigative due diligence. The consensus among experts is that five percent of sexual assault and rapes are falsified when brought to law enforcement agencies.
When technology is brought forward to SAU investigators, they are expected to use their latest forensic technology to assist them, not allow continued cases to sit on the shelf. This is a problem in Houston – the city that only dismisses two percent of cases – as they are a top offender in a backlog of forensic technology. Although the forensic units are tasked with testing for violent crimes, they must recognize and assist the Sexual Assault Unit. Testing that is backlogged leads to a failure in consistency, delayed trials, and the risk of letting serial rapists and assaulters last too long in the community.
A delay in using technology shows that the problems with backlogging the Sexual Assault Unit is a cultural problem among police agencies. For it not only exists among police officers working their way up through the unit, but it exists amongst the forensic staff. Administration can no longer let the opportunity for new policing processes to slide by the way side for ‘lesser units’. A culture of equal importance and duty, a culture that puts aside pride and puts the emphasis on community, must be established to overcome the digression of policing process.
Neglect In The SAU – Statistical Data
The results of neglect for the Sexual Assault Unit has been statistically devastating both to children and adult victims. Statistics on the neglect of children show why the digression of sexual assault best policing processes is an absolute travesty. Digression does not stop at “shelved” crimes but includes unreported and undiscovered crimes. In the United States 729,572 substantiated cases (Excel table 3_2) of abuse occurred in 2013, down 3.8 percent from 2009 (Table 3_3). Among those cases, 65,661 children (nine percent) of cases involved sexual assault. Furthermore, when death resulted to these children, eighty percent of cases involved parental abuse.
To discover a case of child sexual assault, a demand is put on someone to disclose the incident to the authorities. However, sources show that the number of investigated sexual assault cases should be higher. According to David Finkelhor of the Child Advocacy Center, over the course of their lifetime, twenty-eight percent of children fourteen to seventeen have been sexually victimized (thus, including rape, sexual assaults, voyeurism, exposure, etcetera). A Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that twenty-eight in one-thousand children were sexually assaulted or raped. Furthermore, when these crimes occur, seventy-five percent occur at the hands of someone they know. Broken families and homes – factors that make reporting and disclosure difficult promptly before the statute of limitations have expired – further, increase the incidents of sex crimes in children.
Resolving Issues Of Digression
Resolving the issues of the digression of new policing processes demands the entire culture of a police agency is working together in order to recognize the need for intellectual investigative research to expand. Research cannot be singularly in the areas of violence and terrorism. Yes, these are pressing issues, but if police units let the criminal behavior dictate the research and policing process, the criminals have won.
Law Enforcement agencies must adequately train their minds and investigative processes to expand the methodologies used. This can be accomplished by instituting an equal level of importance to all units. No longer can the SAU unit be a stepping-stone. Looking at a career point as a stepping-stone overlooks the humans and victims on the other side. It places inappropriate pride on the inside of the officers working in the SAU, establishing an atmosphere that is for self-service opposed to community service. This leads to a lack of experienced officers that can mentor their new comrades. The result is a lack of integrity that places victim-centered investigations at the forefront, ignoring the necessity of fact-finding. Without fact-finding, the alleged victim is hurt in the investigation process while the alleged victim does not receive due process. With 65,661 cases of sexual assault in the United States, resolving must come. It is time for police officers to receive a moment of deep introspective thought to discover what their true heart of heart is. Does it seek to resolve for the community, or does it seek to resolve for self? The answer may be startling, but that startling moment is exactly what agencies need in order to step-up and resolve their problems. Credibility to follow-up on cases, credibility to the forensic unit to complete rape kits, credibility to own investigation techniques all must unilaterally exist. A culture of excellence must exist to constantly improve the resolving rate of cases. New policing processes have to be accepted of equal importance in order to provide excellent community service.