Abby Honold Act passes, will give law enforcement resources to respond to sexual assault crimes

By Annalise Johnson Mar 22, 2022 Updated 12 hrs ago

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new bill requires the U.S. Department of Justice to give grants to law enforcement agencies to provide trauma-informed trainings for responding to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking crimes.

The Abby Honold Act was signed into law federally last week. It's named after a former University of Minnesota student and sexual assault survivor.

“When I was sexually assaulted as a college student, one of the most traumatic parts of the aftermath was trying to report it. I never want another survivor of sexual assault to feel that way. I am so hopeful for what this bill can accomplish and how many victims it can impact; being treated with care and respect is something that every survivor deserves, and I hope that this is step can be one of many towards a fairer and kinder process for victims of sexual assault,” says Honold.

KIMT News 3 spoke with Capt. James Schueller from Olmsted County Sheriff's Office Investigations and Security Services. He says the agency keeps up with mandated trainings, but is always looking for new ways to improve its skill sets, like victim-centered forensic interviewing. "Any type of training that we can get is going to help us out, but especially when it comes to victim-based crimes, the federal funding that's going to allow for us to receive additional training in this to better handle the cases with all the emphasis on caring for the victim throughout the process. So that's the biggest perk for us as law enforcement, is to be able to take the training and really make it improve the investigation and the entire process for victims," he explains.

"How this bill came to pass, to know that a victim was able to turn something so negative into a positive to help other victims in the future, that's something she should be pretty proud of and I think law enforcement as a whole, how we respond to it now is really going to tell real story," Capt. Schueller adds. It's too early to say if local law enforcement agencies will pursue these grants, but once more information is available, Capt. Schueller says it's possible they'll be looking to get investigators and detectives through additional training. Two Minnesota lawmakers, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Tom Emmer among the four legislators who led the bipartisan legislation.

“As we work to support survivors like Abby, we need to provide law enforcement with the training and skills they need to best engage with and help victims,” says Sen. Klobuchar. “Now that the Abby Honold Act is signed into law, we can help ensure that law enforcement uses the most effective techniques to respond to these critical investigations.” “Sexual assault is a life-shattering event, the trauma of which can be compounded by improper care,” says Rep. Emmer. “The Abby Honold Act will equip first responders with valuable healing tools and give a voice to survivors.