Prosecution of sexual assault cases involving Native American women victims has a historically low prosecution rate. With that in mind, “Mending the Sacred Hoop” and the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual partnered with the Duluth Police Department and began a Safety and Accountability Audit; a collaborative process of examining the system's response to reported rapes of Native women.
The Safely Audit identified the gaps between the experiences and needs of Native women who reported a sexual assault to the police and what the institution of law enforcement is organized to offer them as a result. This project was to be "victim centered" identifying whether a woman's safety is compromised or ways in which the offender can escape accountability. The gaps uncovered in the Safety Audit would forever change the Duluth Police and community based agencies' response to sexual assault. Because of the Audit, the ground work has been established to move forward as a department committed to "victim centered" responses, transparency with partner agencies, and honest and heartfelt critical evaluation of our responses to victims of sexual assault. Another outcome of the Audit is a sexual assault advocate is now embedded in the Sex Crimes Unit to ensure we are doing all we can to have a successful outcome in sexual assault investigations.
This ground breaking work has caught the attention of police departments throughout the country who want to improve their response to victims of sexual assault. Duluth Police Deputy Chief Mike Tusken will travel to San Diego where he will accept the award during the 119th Annual IACP Conference on October 1st. The trip is being paid for by the IACP.
Here is the IACP link for more information on this award: