WASHINGTON — District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Wednesday that a law firm’s coming report largely vindicates the police department’s handling of sexual assault complaints and acknowledges the progress that’s been made.
Lanier said in a statement that the report, which is to be presented Thursday before the D.C. Council, “reinforced our conclusions” that a study by Human Rights Watch earlier this year was flawed. Human Rights Watch has said it stands by its research and that its report, which concluded that police failed to adequately investigate a large percentage of sexual assault reports, was done accurately.
The report from Crowell & Moring LLP was conducted in response to the Human Rights Watch report. It is scheduled to be discussed at a round-table discussion on Thursday morning.
The report is expected to include a series of recommendations, including that an external adviser determine whether reforms are properly implemented. But Lanier said the firm’s report “reinforced our conclusions about the HRW report.”
“HRW’s report was based on a flawed methodology and written in such a way — such as omitting key facts favorable to the Department or repeating the concerns of eight victims more than 100 times to create the impression of many more complaints — as to present a deliberate bias against the department,” Lanier said in a statement.
She said the department has worked hard to reform its practices over the last five years.
Sara Darehshori, senior counsel with the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch, said she disagrees with the police department’s criticism of the report and said her group had no reason to be biased.
“At the end of the day what matters is that the victims in D.C. get improved treatment,” she said, adding that she’d be pleased if the report served as a catalyst for that.
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