Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman pledges to strengthen sex assault investigations
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman plans several measures to improve the way his office and Minneapolis Police pursue sexual assault cases, following reports that rape investigations are chronically mishandled by Minnesota law enforcement organizations.
Among other steps, Freeman said, he’ll have a prosecutor review cases regularly with the Minneapolis Police Department’s sex crimes investigators. They’ll give special attention, he said, to cases that are “redlined,” that is closed without being assigned to a police investigator.
“We were surprised at how many were redlined,” Freeman said. “We’ll go over developing cases and give advice about what they need to do.”
Freeman’s comments came a week after the Star Tribune published a special report documenting pervasive failings in the way Minnesota law enforcement agencies investigate sexual assault. The analysis, which examined more than 1,000 sexual assault reports from 2015 and 2016, found hundreds of cases in which police departments failed to interview witnesses, collect evidence or even assign detectives to rape cases. It also found that most cases are never referred to county prosecutors and only a small share ever result in convictions.
Freeman said he’s spoken with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo since the Star Tribune stories were published and discussed meeting with investigators to review cases.
He also said he wants to ensure that every victim is interviewed before dismissing a case.
“I don’t know how you evaluate a case at all if you don’t talk with the victim,” Freeman said.
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626