New WVC police chief orders criminal case audit

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- Following an order to audit the West Valley City sex-crimes unit, Police Chief Lee Russo has now ordered an audit into the handling of all criminal cases in the past year.

It all started in November with an audit of the sex-crimes unit, after allegations surfaced that detectives had mishandled cases, weren't properly trained or used improper protocol when dealing with victims of sexual assault.

Russo said he wants accountability, and has ordered an audit of all criminal cases over the past year. From now on, Russo will receive monthly updates on all criminal cases.

The alleged improprieties occurred before Russo took over as West Valley City Police chief, and detectives who worked in the sex-crimes unit were either transferred or no longer work for the West Valley City Police Department.

Holly Mullen, the Executive Director of the Utah Rape and Recovery Center, said she met Russo for the first time last week, and is impressed with the steps he's taking to ensure sex crimes are properly and thoroughly investigated.

"There's a lot of stuff that makes it really hard for police and prosecutors, and we get that," Mullen said. "But we think that means they have to try all the harder, and there is a way to do that, and I think Chief Russo is getting to the bottom of that."

Mullen said Chief Russo dropped in, unannounced, at the monthly meeting of the sex assault response team to tell them his department wanted to do better when it comes to investigating sex crimes. She said Russo told them what officers are going to do, and how the team can help.

The audit of the West Valley City Police Department sex-crimes unit is expected to wrap up this week. Russo is expected to make the results public sometime next week.