The local newspaper recently published a series of articles about how the St. Louis Police Department treats victims of rape. I was disturbed by what I read. But, like many people, I have learned not to believe everything I read in the paper.
Most of you know that Chief Joe Mokwa works for a board of commissioners, of which I am one of five members. I like Joe — and I respect his leadership of the Department. I believe he is doing a good job. I have been talking to him about this issue since it first surfaced months ago. He tells me that the Department has changed its procedures — and that the new procedures have been examined and approved by outside agencies.
But, the City is undergoing a renaissance in large part because we are willing to hold ourselves accountable and make changes where necessary.
I have Joe on one side; the newspaper on the other.
I really don’t care who’s right, the newspaper or the Department. I do care that every crime victim believes that her case is of the utmost importance to the St. Louis Police Department and to the detectives investigating it. And I care that every single officer treats every single victim with sensitivity, compassion and without judgment.
I have asked a half dozen experts who work with women to read the newspaper stories, to review the Police Department’s current procedures, and to suggest ways to improve the way the Department treats citizens who are the victims of rape or sexual abuse.
I’ll let you know what I find out.