Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rape Victims Need Police Protection

A female student from Tampa, Florida was recently arrested after reporting her rape to police due to an old warrant for failure to pay restitution on a juvenile offense. Despite having recently been rape by a stranger behind a building during a local parade the officers arrested her, ceased their investigation, and kept her in jail for two days. To add injury to insult, the victim was also denied a second dose of the emergency contraceptive, Plan B.

Full story at:

The police excused these horrors on bad policies and immediately changed these harmful policies, but could this happen in Madison?

This November the Madison Police got a wake-up call by the City of Madison with the passage of the Justice for Patty Resolution. Patty was a blind rape victim who was charged with false reporting when she came forward after a brutal rape. She, like this young woman in Florida, was treated like a criminal when reporting one of the most heinous and serious crimes in our society. Like Florida, our local police lacked policies on treatment of sensitive crime victims that would safeguard against revictimize them.

It seems like police everywhere lack these policies despite specialized Sensitive Crime Units and trained detectives. Hopefully this police standard will change here by mid-February when Chief Wray submits policy reforms regarding treatment of sensitive crime victims in Madison. While Resolution supporters expect the elimination of tactics used to break down sensitive crimes victims, such as with lies and coercion, the proposal by Chief Wray may fall short. The Police Chief has suggested videotaping interrogations or instructing detectives on when to use these tactics, but this will not suffice. Everyday there are women disrespected, investigated, or arrested like criminals when bravely reporting the most under-reported crime in our nation. Will it really take another incident like Tampa’s before we make these reforms a priority?