January 24, 2013

V. Improving Sexual Assault Investigations

Leadership, management, accountability, transparency and community engagement are the necessary components of systemic change and we saw the impact in Philadelphia.
—Email from Carol Tracy, executive director, Women’s Law Project, May 17, 2012

To better understand what reforms might be possible in Washington, D.C., Human Rights Watch reviewed a range of policies and interviewed numerous experts and stakeholders about reforms undertaken in Austin, Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Grand Rapids—cities that have re-examined their approach to sexual assault cases in recent years.[689]

While no single unit does everything perfectly, we have identified basic elements that often characterize effective police responses to sexual assault. Many of these can be contrasted with the approach Human Rights Watch uncovered amongst some officers at MPD.

A lengthier report on approaches to improving sexual assault investigations can be obtained here: http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/improvingSAInvest_0.pdf; however the following chapter provides a snapshot of our findings, which have informed our conclusions and recommendations regarding MPD’s response to sexual assaults in the capital.

A Non-Judgmental, Victim-Centered Approach

In cities that have instituted reforms, there has been a strong focus on encouraging victims to report their crimes. The captain of the Philadelphia Special Victims Unit stressed that reporting numbers for rape and sexual assault remain low and getting people to report is something they are “battling every day.”[690]

Police departments use various methods to encourage reports, ranging from protocols allowing people to provide information to police about sexual assault without recording identifying information (“blind reporting”) to public awareness campaigns. 

In Austin, Texas, victims are permitted to use a pseudonym on all medical and legal documents associated with the case because “it gives the victim a choice about whether she wants people to know she is a survivor.”[691] In Grand Rapids, in early 2011, the police department implemented a blind reporting policy allowing victims to report anonymously either indirectly (by filling out a form and writing his or her own statement and sending it to the Grand Rapids Police Department) or directly (if the victim meets with the detective to explain what happened but does not share identifying information.)[692] Sergeant Rogers of the Grand Rapids Police Department explained that the advantage of this is that the police are made aware of a suspect’s characteristics or name so if another related case arises, they may be able to persuade the anonymous victim to come forward.[693] In addition, it gives victims more control by providing those who are unsure about whether to report an option between reporting and not reporting.[694]

Kansas City and Austin both participate in the “Start by Believing” public outreach campaign, which aims to improve the response of friends, family members, professionals, and other support people to a victim’s first disclosure of sexual assault to help victims get the support they need and encourage reporting.

Encouraging reporting has little impact without efforts to improve police responsiveness. Unfortunately, throughout the US, many police remain highly skeptical of victims. A survey as recent as 2010 showed that over half of detectives with less than 7 years of experience, interviewed in 16 police departments believed that 40 to 80 percent of sexual assault complaints were false.[695] Another survey of 891 officers in two southeastern states showed 53 percent of respondents believed 10 to 50 percent of victims lied about being raped and another 10 percent thought 51-100 percent of women gave false reports of rape.[696] In fact, studies show only 2-10 percent of rape cases are false.[697] Overcoming skepticism is essential to improving police response.

The attitude conveyed by law enforcement can be “the single most important factor in determining the success of the victim interview—and therefore the entire investigation,” according to a manual about investigating sexual assaults.[698] A Model Policy published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) stresses the importance of officers’ and investigators’ (detectives’) attitudes towards victims in ensuring the latters’ cooperation and ability to cope with the emotional effects of the crime.[699]

Detectives should be trained to reassure the victim that they are not there to judge, and that nothing the victim did gave the suspect permission to sexually assault them. [700] As one Kansas City detective remarked to Human Rights Watch, “They need to understand that we get it.” [701]

Detectives can explain to victims the importance of not withholding any information so that their credibility is not questioned later. In Austin, Grand Rapids, and Kansas City, the detective or advocate makes a point of explaining to the victim that people often leave things out and it is better to know everything—even unflattering or illegal behavior—upfront, while also reassuring the victim that he or she is not at fault and will not be judged. [702]

Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Austin all have policies not to charge the victim with illegal behavior that happened around the assault (unless it is absolutely necessary given the seriousness of the offense), and make it clear that the victim will not be arrested for offenses like illicit drug use or underage drinking.[703] Experts strenuously object to threatening victims implicitly or explicitly with charges for false reporting.[704] In Austin, the head of the Sex Crimes Unit eliminated a requirement that victims sign a perjury statement before beginning an interview because it conveyed suspicion toward victims that was likely to make them feel uncomfortable and less willing to participate.[705]

Interviews

Due to the possible impact of trauma and a victim’s possible reactions, the first responding officer (generally a patrol or uniformed officer) should limit the amount of information gathered from a victim immediately after the assault.[706]

He or she should address any safety or medical concerns, collect just enough information to establish the elements of the crime, identify potential witnesses and suspect(s), and identify and secure evidence. [707] In Austin, responding officers gather basic facts and determine whether a detective should respond to the scene, for example if there is a perpetrator that needs to be arrested immediately. [708] A detective conducts a detailed interview later.

The possible impact of trauma on short-term memory means it is preferable to give the victim one or even two sleep cycles before conducting a detailed interview. [709] Not rushing an interview may be advisable for other reasons too: a victim may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the initial report; he or she may need a chance to rest, change clothes, or bathe after a forensic exam. He or she may also require some time to process what has happened and make arrangements for child-care or transportation. [710] It also gives detectives an opportunity to evaluate all of the reports generated as a result of the call before questioning the victim. [711]

Beginning an interview by acknowledging the victim’s trauma is often helpful. The guiding principle for detectives in Philadelphia, according to the former head of the Special Victims Unit, is, “How do you want someone in your family to be treated?” [712] In Kansas City, police start the interview by saying, “We are really glad you are here because you are safe,” or “Thank you for being here.” [713] In San Diego, detectives are instructed to validate and normalize a victim’s responses by understanding and explaining Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the impact trauma has on victims.

Victims should be informed about the progress of their case, the detective should return phone calls in a timely manner, and any decision not to arrest the suspect or further pursue the case should be carefully explained to the victim.[714]

Advocates and Referrals to Community Resources

Using an advocate or counselor to assist victims through the investigative process can be beneficial to both victims and law enforcement. [715]

For example, use of rape crisis center advocates from the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) is a key component of Kansas City’s victim-centered response to sexual assault. Advocates are called to the hospital when a victim is brought in for a forensic exam, and they are present for the victim during the police interview. The Sex Crimes Section leadership welcomes their involvement because they find victims more likely to report an assault and remain engaged in the investigation if they have an advocate. One detective described a situation in which a victim experienced a flashback during an interview and was only able to finish her statement with the advocate’s support. [716] Kansas City Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) members caution that the role of the advocate has to be clearly explained: they are there for support and are not part of the police investigation. As a prosecutor put it, “As long as people know what is expected, it works.” [717] In Austin, victim service counselors are integrated into the Sex Crimes Unit and provide support to the victim at every stage of the process, acting as an intermediary between detectives and victims. [718]

Cities with constructive practices for victims inform them verbally and in writing of their rights and of community resources available to them. [719] For example, the Victim Services Unit in Austin gives each victim a detailed packet of resources [720] and refers victims to the rape crisis center. [721] Kansas City detectives send victims who miss an appointment a follow-up letter containing information about counseling services and detectives also regularly refer victims to the rape crisis center. [722] In Grand Rapids, all officers are required to provide victims with a “2-1-1” card, which is a pocket guide to programs and services in the area, including support services for sexual assault victims. In addition, the detectives in the family service team have a wide array of pamphlets (in English and Spanish) on site that they are able to provide victims when they are interviewed. [723] In Philadelphia, police and hospital personnel routinely refer victims to the rape crisis center. [724]

Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

In four cities that Human Rights Watch visited—Philadelphia, Austin, Grand Rapids, and Kansas City— collaboration between police and the various agencies and community groups that work with sexual assault survivors was viewed as an essential component of success. As Sergeant Rogers of Grand Rapids said, “We couldn’t survive without a good working relationship with them.”[725] This collaboration often takes the form of a formal Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team (SART or SARRT), which may include forensic examiners, detectives, advocates, and prosecutors.[726] Philadelphia’s Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, which has operated for over 20 years, is less formal and open to anyone who wants to participate.

In each city, medical staff, advocates, and police recognized that the victim’s wellbeing is important to everyone.[727] Collaboration across disciplines yields a number of benefits. Communication between law enforcement and medical personnel can assist the investigation by helping the nurse document and collect evidence. In Philadelphia and Grand Rapids, one noted benefit of improved communication is that nurses share relevant information with detectives that the victim may not have mentioned, such as the possible location of a condom.[728] The detectives in Kansas City also call nurses to decipher technical medical reports.[729] In each city, team members noted that their relationships and mutual respect allow them to raise concerns informally about insensitive or inappropriate behavior and feel confident they will be addressed.[730]

Leadership and Training

Leaders within the sexual assault unit and in the upper reaches of the police department hierarchy who are committed to thorough investigation of sexual assault crimes are essential to success. As one retired police chief told Human Rights Watch, Culture has to change from the top. Clear messages need to be sent about how these cases are handled.” [731]

In Austin, Kansas City, and Philadelphia, community advocates and medical personnel frequently credited the commitment of the head of the sex crimes unit as the reason for improved treatment of victims. These captains and sergeants in turn felt they had support they needed from top management to do what was necessary to handle these cases appropriately.

The captain in Kansas City and his counterparts in Philadelphia and Austin worked hard to change the culture of their departments and reinforce a victim-centered approach.

In Philadelphia, drastic changes to the Special Victims Unit in the late 1990s came only when police leadership made reform a priority after recognizing there was a problem and being embarrassed due to media attention. A Philadelphia advocate credited Commissioner Timoney for the changes there, stating, “it was the leadership of Commissioner Timoney that transformed sex crime investigations. Commissioner Timoney reorganized the department and put in appropriate management and accountability measures.”[732] A veteran prosecutor summed it up: “Attitude is top down.”[733] The current head of the city’s Special Victims Unit stressed the importance of reminding “people of how things can deteriorate if you take your mind off it.”[734] Information about sex crimes cases is raised during roll call (when officers present themselves for inspection and a briefing before leaving on assignment) and information bulletins about cases are regularly sent out. Daily conference calls also reference sex crimes.[735]

Moreover, effective departments have instituted specialized training in sexual assault. In Austin, San Diego, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and New York City, police receive detailed training on investigating sexual assault. In New Orleans, after realizing that detectives’ lack of understanding of how sexual assault victims think led to misclassification of cases, police leadership asked advocates and experts at Tulane University to design a training program to teach detectives how to better relate to sexual assault victims. Detectives undergo training quarterly and all patrol officers will do a smaller version of the training program. [736]

The need for training is constant because of high turnover,[737] and specialized training is necessary because police training on investigating other crimes can be counterproductive if applied to sexual assault survivors. Police are often trained in interrogating witnesses and suspects rather than in interviewing victims. Furthermore, police are often suspicious when information is presented in a disorganized or inconsistent manner, or when victims recall information days, weeks, or even months after the assault.[738] 

One study showed that if victims do not tell the whole story up front, cases are less likely to progress.[739] Training in the effects of trauma on memory can help officers understand this is not a cause for suspicion and that inconsistencies should not be confused with a false report.[740] Police also need enough training in the dynamics of sexual violence to understand counterintuitive behavior, such as a victim returning to a party after an assault or “freezing” and not fighting back.[741]

Experts also recommend training officers in the elements of sexual assault offenses so they can better identify incidents that meet the criteria, even if they lack the element of force or fear. In many places, including the District of Columbia, it is unlawful to engage in sexual activity with someone who is extremely intoxicated, incapacitated, severely disabled, unconscious, or otherwise physically helpless, even if the intoxicating substance was not administered covertly by the suspect. [742] Yet responding officers may not realize the victim’s intoxication may mean that force is not necessary to establish sexual abuse. [743]

Officers should also be aware that specific recollection of penetration is not necessary to report a sexual assault. According to the FBI spokesperson:

There is in fact no requirement that a victim specifically recall the act of penetration—especially in cases where a woman might have blacked out. If a woman says she has reason to believe she was raped but cannot recall details because she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the incident should be counted as a rape. If subsequent investigation proves that no rape took place, police can subtract it from their crime total.[744]

Accountability and Transparency

In Austin, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, and Kansas City, a number of safeguards have been put in place to ensure that sexual assault cases are investigated. Each department has incorporated most, if not all, of the following practices:

  • Requiring that all sexual assault incidents be put in writing and assigned a number for tracking purposes and secondary review;
  • Clearly instructing officers to assume that sexual assault cases are valid unless established otherwise by investigative findings;
  • Reviewing call logs to ensure cases are not slipping through the cracks;
  • Checking each case to see that the investigation is handled appropriately;
  • Reviewing caseloads to monitor the reporting, clearing, and closing of all cases by each detective to identify potential problems;
  • Serious and prompt responses to complaints about improper treatment by victims;[745]
  • Removal of detectives who do not meet the expectations of the unit.[746]

Experts agree that detectives should not be granted the discretion to declare a case unfounded or not to write a report after taking only an initial statement from the victim. All incidents (including those where it is unclear if the legal elements of a sexual assault are met) should be documented, reviewed by a supervisor, and followed up.[747] For example, in Kansas City, every sexual assault case must be written up and investigated. The policy has paid off. The captain, recalling one sexual assault case in which detectives doubted that a crime had occurred, said,

The perpetrator snuck into the victim’s house and approached her from behind. He told her not to look at him and made her take a bath afterwards. The victim never saw the suspect. Despite their doubts, detectives investigated the case and a month later a similar crime occurred. Eventually they were able to link the perpetrator to four cold cases in addition to five cases in 2009 and 2010.[748]

A written record is necessary so that officers and detectives can be held responsible for every sexual assault call they receive. Finally, detectives should not be pressured to “clear” (or remove from an active investigative caseload) a high percentage of their cases.[749] 

In cities such as Philadelphia[750] and Austin,[751] stringent oversight of the progress of cases and external reviews by advocacy organizations of case files have brought increased accountability and improved police response.

In Philadelphia, to restore public confidence in the police following revelations about its mishandling of sexual assault cases in 1999, Commissioner John Timoney proposed what seemed to be a radical idea at the time: allowing advocacy groups to review investigative files of sex crimes cases. The review process is conducted once a year. Representatives from five advocacy groups (bound by confidentiality agreements) meet in a sex crimes unit conference room for a few days each year and review all “unfounded” cases as well as 100 randomly selected case files, child abuse cases referred to the department by third parties, and a category of cases established for situations where the victim does not recall what happened.[752] The reviewers examine files to determine if all relevant witnesses were interviewed; all indicated forensic testing was requested and results returned; victim interviews were conducted appropriately and without blame or interrogation techniques; coding is correct; no victim polygraph tests were threatened or performed; and that the ultimate determination as to whether a crime was committed is consistent with the evidence collected.[753] They also scrutinize victim recantations to ensure they were not influenced by police or others.

The result has been better investigations and improved treatment of victims. The head of the Philadelphia Special Victims Unit said his investigators adhere to a higher threshold because they know their files will be reviewed: “Our investigators are well aware that they may be asked tough questions about their assigned cases at some point down the road. They pay more attention to detail and are more careful through every step of the investigation. The case review program ultimately makes them better investigators.”[754] Over the years, the advocates also describe seeing “a vast improvement in the files,” which contain more documentation and more sign-off from supervisors.[755] Fewer cases are dropped without an investigation.[756]

In Austin, when Sergeant Liz Donegan took over the Sex Crimes Unit in 2002, she discovered that patrol officers regularly cleared sexual assault cases without documenting the incident in a written report. She issued a directive requiring all calls to respond to sexual assault cases to be documented in a formal report that is forwarded to the Sex Crimes Unit for review to ensure the cases do not disappear from the system. [757] If a detective wants to close a case as “unfounded,” he or she must meet personally with his or her supervisor to justify the decision. As a result, Austin has very few unfounded cases. [758] The New Orleans Police Department also implemented procedures requiring the commander of the sex crimes section to sign off on the classifications for all sexual assault cases after finding that large numbers of sexual assault cases that officers did not think were true were classified as “miscellaneous.” [759]

Following the Baltimore Sun’s expose in 2010 that city police led the nation in “unfounding” cases, Baltimore Commissioner Fred Bealefeld gave the Sexual Assault Response Team the ability to audit Police Department practices and past cases. [760] He also required the unit commander to sign off on any unfounded sexual assault case in the city. Patrol officers are no longer able to make that determination. [761] Other proposed reforms include case-management software that would allow every agency involved with the response to sexual assaults to access the status of a sexual assault case. [762] The Baltimore commissioner stressed that in order to achieve transparency, “you have to give people a lot of access,” including people who have historically been very critical of the Police Department and “Agencies need to be ready for every bit of criticism that this issue brings.” [763] Although there have been changes in policy and personnel in Baltimore Police Department’s Sex Offense Unit since 2010, reform is ongoing and it is too early to assess the impact of the changes.

[689] Grand Rapids, Austin, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C were among eight US cities involved in the Making a Difference (MAD) Project, an initiative in which multidisciplinary teams from each city worked together to establish new national standards for effectively investigating and prosecuting sexual assault. The project was implemented and supported by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI).

[690] Human Rights Watch interview with Captain John Darby and Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 1, 2011.

[691] Sgt. Joanne Archambault, Dr. Kimberly Lonsway, and EVAWI, “Reporting Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” July 2007, pp. 13-15.

[692] Human Rights Watch interview with Patti Haist, director of clinical services, and Chris Dunnuck, nurse coordinator, YWCA, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 23, 2012.

[693] Human Rights Watch interview with Sergeant Kristen Rogers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 26, 2012.

[694] Ibid; Human Rights Watch interview with Patti Haist and Chris Dunnuck, July 23, 2012.

[695] Martin D. Schwartz, “National Institute of Justice Visiting Fellowship: Police Investigation of Rape –Roadblocks and Solutions,” Doc. No. 232667, US Department of Justice Number 2003-IJ-CX-1027, December 2010.

[696] Amy Dellinger Page, “Gateway to Reform? Policy Implications of Police Officers’ Attitudes toward Rape,” American Journal of Criminal Justice, vol. 33, no. 1, May 2008, pp. 44-58.

[697] David Lisak et al., “False Allegations of Sexual Assault: An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases,” Violence Against Women, December 16, 2010, pp. 1318-34 (finding a false report rate of 5.9 percent over a 10 year study of reported sexual assaults at a major northeastern university).

[698] EVAWI, “Interviewing the Victim,” May 2007, p 6.

[699] IACP, “Investigating Sexual Assaults Model Policy,” July 2005.

[700] EVAWI, “Interviewing the Victim,” May 2007, pp. 25-26; see also San Diego Police Department, Sex Crimes Unit Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), April 10, 2002, p. 1-13, on file at Human Rights Watch.

[701] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART (including Detective Catherine Johnson, Kansas City Police Department), Kansas City, Missouri, July 22, 2011.

[702] Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interview with Dolores Lapart-Litton, victim services supervisor, Adriana Duarte, victim services counselor, and Sgt. Liz Donegan, Victims Services Unit, Austin Police Department, Austin, Texas, December 14, 2011.

[703] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011; Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 1, 2011.

[704] Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011.

[705] Human Rights Watch interview with Sergeant Liz Donegan, Austin Police Department, Austin, Texas, December 13, 2011.

[706] Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011.

[707] International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) National Law Enforcement Policy Center, “Investigating Sexual Assaults,” initially published November 1999, revised July 2005, p. 2, 6.

[708] Human Rights Watch Interview with Sgt. Liz Donegan, December 13, 2011.

[709] EVAWI, “Interviewing the Victim”p. 52; see also Louise Ellison, “Closing the credibility gap: The prosecutorial use of expert testimony in sexual assault cases,” The International Journal of Evidence & Proof, vol. 9, no. 4, 2005, pp. 243-44.

[710] EVAWI, “Interviewing the Victim”p. 52.

[711] For these reasons, Austin detectives try to give sexual assault victims 48 hours before follow-up questioning. Kansas City detectives conduct one preliminary interview at the hospital and a longer and more detailed interview at another location later. Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011.

[712] Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011.

[713] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011. The SANE nurse in Austin similarly emphasized that she makes a point of thanking victims who come in and telling them how courageous they are. Human Rights Watch interview with Jenny Black,coordinator, Austin/Travis County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, Austin, Texas, December 14, 2011.

[714] See for example, San Diego Police Department, Sex Crimes Unit SOP, April 10, 2002, p. 1-13.

[715] Dr. Kim Lonsway and Sgt. Joanne Archambault, “Advocates and Law Enforcement: Oil and Water?” Sexual Assault Report, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 81-82, 86-95; Rebecca Campbell, “Rape Survivors’ Experiences With the Legal and Medical Systems: Do Rape Victim Advocates Make a Difference?” Violence Against Women, 2006.

[716] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011.

[717] Ibid. (Trisha Lacey, sex crimes prosecutor, Kansas City).

[718] Human Rights Watch interview with Dolores Lapart-Litton, Adriana Duarte, and Sgt. Liz Donegan, December 14, 2011.

[719] EVAWI, ”Interviewing the Victim,” May 2007, p. 96, 99; San Diego Police Department, Sex Crimes Unit SOP, April 10, 2002, p. 1-15; IACP, “Investigating Sexual Assaults, Model Policy,” May 2005.

[720] Folder of information provided by Austin Police Department, on file at Human Rights Watch (folder contains a case information sheet—with a case number and contact information for the detective, victim services counselor, and D.A.’s victim witness assistance—an explanation of the criminal justice process, a sheet explaining the rights of victims, an explanation of access to court information, an application for financial compensation from the state for victims of violent crimes, health care information, information on emotional care for sexual assault survivors, information for family and friends on how to help and support a sexual assault survivor, referrals for counseling programs, a pseudonym form, and information about the Victims Services Unit and the Austin Police Department).

[721] Human Rights Watch interview with Gail Rice, community advocacy director, SafePlace, Austin, Texas, December 14, 2011.

[722] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011.

[723] Human Rights Watch interview with Sgt. Kristen Rogers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 26, 2012. Pamphlets and leaflets on file with Human Rights Watch.

[724] Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011.

[725] Ibid.

[726] Sgt. Joanne Archambault, Dr. Kimberly Lonsway, and EVAWI, “Clearance Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” July 2007 (updated May 2012), p. 29.

[727] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Tess Sherman, analyst, Sex Crimes Unit, Austin Police Department, Austin, Texas, December 14, 2011; Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011.

[728] Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Sgt. Kristen Rogers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 26, 2012.

[729] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011.

[730] Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011; Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Gail Rice, December 14, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Patti Haist and Chris Dunnuck, July 23, 2012.

[731] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Dan Clark, former police chief, Lakewood (Ohio) Police Department, February 3, 2011.

[732] Police Executive Research Forum, Critical Issues in Policing Series, “Improving the Police Response to Sexual Assault,” March 2012, http://policeforum.org/library/critical-issues-in-policing-series/SexualAssaulttext_web.pdf (accessed November 29, 2012), p. 9.

[733] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Chris Mallios, northeast regional attorney advisor, AEquitas: The Prosecutor’s Resource on Violence Against Women, November 10, 2011.

[734] Human Rights Watch interview with Captain John Darby and Commissioner Charles Ramsey, November 1, 2011.

[735] Ibid.

[736] Police Executive Research Forum, “Improving the Police Response to Sexual Assault,” p. 11.

[737] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Chris Mallios, November 10, 2011.

[738] EVAWI, “Interviewing the Victim,” May 2007, p. 22.

[739]  See Debra Patterson, “The Impact of Detectives’ Manner of Questioning on Rape Victims’ Disclosure,” Violence Against Women, January 11, 2012.

[740] EVAWI, “Interviewing the Victim,” pp. 7, 22.

[741] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Chris Mallios, November 10, 2011.

[742] EVAWI, “Reporting Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” p. 32; D.C. Official Code Section 22-3003.

[743] EVAWI, “Reporting Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” p. 11.

[744] Mark Fazlollah et al., “How police use a new code when sex cases are unclear,” Philadelphia Inquirer (quoting Mary Victoria Pyne, spokeswoman for the FBI UCR program), October 18, 1999.

[745] EVAWI, “Clearance Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” pp. 35-36.

[746] Human Rights Watch group interview with Kansas City SART, July 22, 2011; Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011; Human Rights Watch Interview with Sgt. Liz Donegan, December 13, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Dolores Lapart-Litton, Adriana Duarte, and Sgt. Liz Donegan, December 14, 2011.

[747] EVAWI, “Clearance Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” p. 18; EVAWI, “Reporting Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” pp. 6-7. Incident reports may be appropriate where the victim makes a report that does not meet the elements of a sexual offense; for example if a person felt pressured into having sexual contact with another person but the pressure did not rise to the level of a forcible sexual assault. However, some form of report must be created and reviewed. There must also be the ability to re-categorize the case if more information becomes available or if the victim decides to cooperate after initially not be able to participate in the investigation. EVAWI, “Clearance Methods for Sexual Assault Cases,” pp. 18-19.

[748] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Captain Mark Folsom, Special Victims Unit, Kansas City Police Department, Kansas City, Missouri, August 24, 2011.

[749] Under the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system, cases may be cleared by arrest (where the suspect has been taken into custody, charged, and handed to the court for prosecution), exceptionally cleared (when the case cannot be charged though the offender is identified, at a known location, and there is enough evidence to support the case, but the offender is in another jurisdiction or deceased or the victim is unable to participate in the investigation), or unfounded (if an investigation shows no offense occurred or was attempted).

[750] John Timoney, “Fixing Policies Was Just the First Step; We also Had to Restore the Department’s Credibility,” Subject to Debate: A Newsletter of the Police Executive Research Forum, vol. 25, no. 5, September/October 2011, http://www.policeforum.org/library/subject-to-debate-archives/2011/Debate_Sep-Oct2011_web.pdf (accessed May 16, 2012).

[751] Human Rights Watch interview with Tess Sherman, December 14, 2011.

[752] In cases where the victim does not recall if he or she was assaulted, a rape kit is done, and if the lab results are positive and the victim says it was non-consensual, the case is reclassified as a rape. Human Rights Watch interview with Captain John Darby and Commissioner Charles Ramsey, November 1, 2011.

[753] Police Executive Research Forum, “Improving the Police Response to Sexual Assault,” p. 38.

[754] Ibid., p. 39; Human Rights Watch interview with Captain John Darby and Commissioner Charles Ramsey, November 1, 2011.

[755] Human Rights Watch interview with Carol Tracy and Terry Fromson, November 1, 2011

[756] Human Rights Watch group interview with Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, November 1, 2011.

[757] Human Rights Watch interview with Sgt. Liz Donegan, December 13, 2011; EVAWI, Making a Difference Project, Reform Efforts, Austin, Texas, www.evawintl.org/mad.aspx?subpage=4 (accessed January 20, 2013).

[758] Human Rights Watch interview with Sgt. Liz Donegan, December 13, 2011.

[759] Police Executive Research Forum, “Improving the Police Response to Sexual Assault,” p. 11.

[760] Ibid., p. 9.

[761]  Ibid., p. 10.

[762] Justin Fenton, “Coordinator will oversee Baltimore sex assault investigation reforms,” Baltimore Sun, March 14, 2011, http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-03-14/news/bs-md-ci-sart-coordinator-hired-20110314_1_offense-unit-sexual-assaults-sun-investigation (accessed November 29, 2012).

[763] Police Executive Research Forum, “Improving the Police Response to Sexual Assault,” p. 10.