NFL Security Chief Cathy Lanier Addresses Assault Cases, Says League Has Improved - NBC4 Washington

NFL Security Chief Cathy Lanier Addresses Assault Cases, Says League Has Improved

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    NFL Security Chief Cathy Lanier Addresses Assault Cases, Says League Has Improved
    NBC Washington
    Cathy Lanier

    Cathy Lanier, former D.C. police chief and current head of security for the NFL, has responded to criticism against the league's handling of players accused of abuse in an exclusive interview with News4.

    The NFL named Lanier its Senior Vice President of Security in 2016 following Robert Mueller's investigation into the league's mishandling of the Ray Rice case. Rice was seen punching out his then-fiancée in an elevator in a video obtained by TMZ.

    "There was extensive reforms that we put in place post Robert Mueller's report from Ray Rice and that is detailed investigative protocol that we follow," Lanier said.

    Fast forward to today — another video released by TMZ shows Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt knocking over and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel hallway in February.

    Hunt was released from the team Nov. 30 after the video surfaced.

    No charges have been filed against him.

    Hunt said in an interview with ESPN on Dec. 2 that league officials never spoke to him about the incident while conducting their own investigation, and that he never saw the security camera video until TMZ Sports posted it.

    Lanier says the reason the NFL has not yet interviewed Hunt is because investigators must first talk to the victim, who she says has refused to talk to them.

    "So you want to speak to the victim. You want to speak to all your witnesses. You want to gather all the physical evidence before you go and speak to the alleged perpetrator in that case. The reason you do that is so that you go in with the best opportunity to gain the truth," Lanier said.

    "We knew that there's video that we had to get our hands on to get the real story," Lanier said.

    The NFL made multiple attempts to obtain the video of Hunt, but the hotel said corporate policy only allowed footage to be given to law enforcement. The NFL then contacted Cleveland police, but the department said Saturday it did not pursue the video because it was not a felony-level case.

    Mueller's 2015 report on the Ray Rice incident noted the league would likely face such situations because of its “lack of subpoena powers.”

    Some sportswriters and critics have said the NFL should adopt TMZ's tactics for obtaining the video.

    "If they provide it to a member of the press, they have First Amendment protections, so they can protect the anonymity of that person. We can’t do that, nor do we want to get in the business of paying people to steal from their employer," Lanier said.

    Days before Hunt was released from the Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers released linebacker Reuben Foster following a domestic violence arrest.

    The Redskins claimed rights to Foster two days after his release, saying he must go through the full legal process and potential discipline from the NFL before playing.

    Lanier said Foster is on the NFL Commissioner's Exempt List, meaning a team can still sign the player, but the player is not allowed to be on the field or in the stadium for games.

    Foster's ex-girlfriend said it felt like a "slap in the face" for the Redskins to claim the player despite her charge that he abused her.

    Despite the recent high-profile cases, Lanier claims the league’s anti-domestic violence education is showing positive results.

    “Right now, we're on pace this year to have the lowest number of incidents involving players that were arrested that we've had since we've been keeping records going back to 2000," Lanier said.

    She said all NFL personnel must go through education and training for issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault prevention and child abuse.

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