By Jeff Wagner

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Governor Mark Dayton is calling for state law enforcement agencies to improve their handling of sexual assault investigations.

Women across the state are speaking out after a Star Tribune investigation that looked into 1,000 cases of reported rapes in Minnesota. It found 75 percent of those cases were never forwarded to a prosecutor.

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Strong words from Gov. Dayton Tuesday afternoon. He called findings in the Star Tribune’s investigation terribly shocking. He followed that with a direct shot at the executive director of the state board in charge of police training and protocols.

In the report, Nate Gove, the executive director of the Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, said he would need legislative direction in order to create a statewide set of standards for investigating sexual assaults.

He added that police don’t have enough resources to investigate every case. Gov. Dayton says he doesn’t buy all that. He says the board could at least look at how other states set standards for investigating these crimes – then make training available on a voluntary basis.

“For an executive director of a board who’s responsible full-time for managing his activities showed level of callous indifference is really appalling,” Dayton said.

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Gov. Dayton says he’s writing a letter to the board, saying they need to aggressively explore more options in how sex assault cases are handled. He added that director Gove might not be the man for the job, based what he learned in the investigation.

Gove released a statement Tuesday night, following the Star Tribune’s report and Dayton’s comments.

“The results of the Star Tribune investigation are concerning. I fully believe that law enforcement and prosecutors can work together more effectively to bring justice to victims of sexual assault.

If any of my comments during my lengthy conversation with the Star Tribune came across as callous or unsympathetic, I am truly sorry. As a 28-year law enforcement veteran, I’ve seen the pain of victims firsthand and take these crimes very seriously.

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Prior to the Star Tribune presenting the results of their investigation to me, I had not had any conversations with lawmakers or members of the law enforcement community about the need for a model policy or requiring additional training on sexual assault cases. As POST Board Executive Director, I am eager to be a part of the process of figuring out how we can best improve these important investigations from a training and policy perspective,” Gove said.

Jeff Wagner