Many victims might disagree
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said it would be better to not have police officers responding to rape calls in situations when the rapist has already fled, according to The Federalist.
Instead, Ellison suggests, it is preferable to have a social worker trained in interacting with rape victims respond to such a call. In making his point, Ellison dismisses police officers as people who are simply trained in how to use guns.
“If you’re a woman who’s been a victim of a sexual assault, and the assailant ran away, wouldn’t you rather talk to somebody who is trained in helping you deal with what you’re dealing with, as opposed to somebody whose main training is that they know how to use a firearm? Right?” Ellison said on a virtual panel with PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor and California Democratic Rep. Karen Bass.
Ellison’s comments are similar to rhetoric that has surrounded efforts to defund or dismantle police departments in liberal localities. The idea is that police officers shouldn’t be responding to things that could conceivably be handled more effectively by social workers or other unarmed officials, in order to minimize the potential for unnecessary violent conflicts that can lead to police killings.
Applying that to mental health crises or minor traffic stops carries its own problems, but applying it to the violent crime of rape is even more controversial and potentially dangerous.
Also, Ellison’s description of police as nothing more than people who know how to use guns is inaccurate and indicates a narrow way of viewing police that is potentially fueling anti-police rhetoric. Police officers are trained to respond capably to a variety of situations that don’t require the use of firearms, including sexual assaults.
For victims’ comfort, and for public safety, having police respond to not only take care of the victim but to work quickly toward catching the suspect is crucial, even and especially if that person has fled the scene.
Ellison faced accusations of sexual abuse in 2018.
Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by police officers on May 25, has been ground zero of the recent anti-police movements that followed Floyd’s death. Last month, the city council voted to start the process of replacing the police department with an alternative model.
The charter amendment calls instead for “a department of community safety and violence prevention.” It also includes a provision for licensed law enforcement officers.
“As a charter department, the director would be nominated by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. The director would have non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches,” the council reported in a press release.
Author: Aaron Colen