In the midst of investigating an alleged rape at a campus fraternity house, the Madison Police Department Tuesday disclosed techniques detectives are permitted to use when questioning crime victims, including the practice of "trickery and/or deception."
Though he said the techniques are already in use by MPD detectives and investigators, Police Chief Noble Wray said it was important to "codify" the interviewing policy and "put it on paper."
On paper, however, is the controversial guideline allowing police detectives to use "trickery and/or deception … as a last resort" if they begin to doubt the truth of a victim's allegations.
"People don't expect police officers not to tell the truth," Wray said at Tuesday's press conference. "It's constitutionally allowed under certain circumstances. What we're trying to do here is outline those rare circumstances in which this would be allowed."
The goal of the policy, Wray added, is to build trust in the police department's service among the Madison community.
"It's not about a policy," Wray said. "It's all about trust and how people perceive our service."
Tuesday's policy disclosure comes three months after the City Council passed the so-called "Patty Resolution," which called for changes to the police department's guidelines for interviewing rape victims.
The resolution was named after a visually impaired woman named "Patty," who told police in 1997 she was the victim of a sexual assault. Police accused Patty of lying about the rape and charged her with filing a false police report.
Then in 2004, after years of perseverance — and three years after DNA evidence helped substantiate Patty's claims — the rapist was convicted of the 1997 rape.
However, City Council President Austin King, who helped author the "Patty Resolution," said the guidelines released Tuesday were not enough to prevent a similar incident.
"It's not a new policy, and that's the problem," King said following the press conference. "All they did was write down the policy that was in place at the time they investigated Patty."
After King questioned the interviewing guidelines at Tuesday's press conference, Wray said there are "no guarantees" the policy would prevent another "Patty" situation from happening.
"We will work hard and treat victims with respect and sensitivity, to try to make sure that does not happen," Wray said. "But there are no guarantees."
The MPD has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for how it has handled the investigation of an alleged rape at a University of Wisconsin campus fraternity house.
In an interview with Madison television station WKOW, the victim of the alleged sexual assault criticized the MPD for doubting her accusations, and for the questions detectives asked her and her roommate.
"I felt it was very rude and not what I was expecting from a police officer," the woman told WKOW, calling the detective's line of questioning "crazy and outlandish."
Following Tuesday's press conference, King specifically criticized the police department for continuing the practice of using "trickery and/or deception," saying it would be "much better to get rid of it."
However, Madison police detectives defended the practice, saying it was sometimes necessary to use deception to get all the facts of a particular incident.
"Ruses, deception — at times those techniques are used by people in law enforcement," MPD detective Mary Morgan said. "We are not trained to use those techniques with victims, and we don't encourage the use of deception or trickery with our victims."
King added the City Council would review the interview guidelines released Tuesday.