When sexual assaults occur, Red Wing Police Department should look to work more closely with a community advocacy group. That is among the recommendations of the new Advisory Team on Government Policies and Practices.

The team, which was founded in 2020, is scheduled to work with the police department for 18 months. The team’s first topic of focus is sexual assault calls.

Michelle Leise, the community engagement facilitator for the city, works with the team and wrote the staff report for its inaugural proposal:

“This topic was considered because sexual assault cases affect people at their most vulnerable time, and as in most systems, when something affects people negatively, it affects Black and brown people at a disproportionately higher level. Though statistics vary, studies show that is true for sexual assault, as well. In addition, a large number of sexual assault cases go unreported, and some residents don' t know the services that are available to them locally."

The advisory team will present four recommendations related to sexual assault calls to Red Wing City Council on Monday, Feb. 8. They are:

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  • Police Department representatives will work closely with HOPE Coalition to review in detail the You Have Options program and bring back a report to the Advisory Team in late spring on how the department could potentially implement this into their procedures.

HOPE Coalition is a nonprofit that "works with ordinary people facing extraordinary trauma" -- domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, homelessness, inability to meet their basic needs. HOPE's website also states it serves an average of 1,700 people annually in Goodhue, Wabasha, and western Pierce counties.

  • Police Department representatives will work closely with HOPE Coalition to review in detail Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview training and bring back a report to the Advisory Team in summer on if and how the department could potentially implement this training with detectives and officers.

  • Police Department detectives and HOPE Coalition advocates will set up a series of meetings throughout the year to build relationships among each other that will be helpful when they work on cases together.

  • Police Department will prioritize hiring a bi-lingual officer.

The Feb. 8 council meeting will be held virtually at 6 p.m. Meeting access information can be found at the city of Red Wing’s website: www.red-wing.org.