Trying to Understand What Led to DPD Chief's Comments About Drinking and Date Rape

Categories: City Hall, Crime
Illustration by Andrea Grimes
Update at 8:35 p.m.: The Dallas Police Department has sent a statement from Chief David Brown regarding his comments about the increase in the number of reported sexual assaults this year -- and the reaction to them. It reads, in full:
Chief Brown wants to emphasize, "I absolutely did not state that the victims are to blame for sexual assault. I was explaining that a preliminary DPD analysis of the increase shows that many of the cases involve alcohol and date rape. I do want to continue to emphasize that women be aware of their surroundings and, when possible, travel in pairs or in a group to enhance security around sexual assault."

"I just think it's irresponsible for bloggers to put inaccurate information in reports to excite or to create this uproar that is not consistent with my statement. They're being irresponsible. This is a very sensitive issue and we really do want to make victims aware of how to protect themselves from these predators."
And now, back to the original item: Jezebel -- go for the Paul Rudd 1992 bat mitzvah DJ video, stay for the item headlined "Moronic Dallas Police Chief Blames Drunk Women For City's Rapes."

Not to get too echo-chambery, but that Jezebel post links back to Andrea's Public Safety Committee liveblog yesterday, during which Dallas Police Chief David Brown explained to the council that the 25-percent jump in reported rapes is related, at least in part, to a rise in date rapes -- as in, victims are having "a little bit too much to drink" with men they don't know "that well." Andrea was not amused. Neither are Jezebel's commenters.

We're trying to get the chief on the phone to clarify his statement, though he's been rather quiet since returning to work following the death of his son. Messages have also been left for Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans, who oversees public safety. Nevertheless, tomorrow we will have the tape of yesterday's meeting, to be provided by City Hall, so you can hear for yourself what was said and in what context it was delivered.

[Update at 5:30 p.m.: Scott Goldstein at The Dallas Morning News has posted a video clip of yesterday's meeting in which the chief addresses the rise in rapes.]

Council member Delia Jasso, who initially asked the chief to explain the rise in reported rapes, tells Unfair Park this evening: "I think [the chief] was giving me a sense of where he thought the increase was coming from. We have to do a better job of education, and we haven't seen a recent one targeted at women and men. I really didn't get a sense in the beginning [the increase in rapes] was due to date rape. ... And I don't think he meant it in a bad way. He was trying to give me a sense of what has led to the increase, and if that's the case we have to do a better job of education and prevention."
What follows is a brief e-mail exchange between Andrea (who's on deadline at present with a cover story, which is why I'm handling this) and DPD spokesman Kevin Janse following yesterday's meeting. Andrea wanted some clarifications (among them, "What does Brown intend to do to address the situation beyond telling women to stop drinking, which is more or less the solution he posed at the committee meeting?"), and Janse offered a response.
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2010 2:54 PM
To: Janse, Kevin
Subject: follow-up on Chief Brown's remarks to council today

Afternoon, Kevin -

I wanted to follow-up on Chief Brown's crime report he made to the public safety committee down at City Hall this afternoon. I'm concerned about the 25.3% increase in rape over last year. Brown suggested that these are actual increases in rapes, rather than increased reportings, and I'd like to know how DPD came to that conclusion. Where are these rapes occurring? What does Brown intend to do to address the situation beyond telling women to stop drinking, which is more or less the solution he posed at the committee meeting? He mentioned he's presenting something to the mayor on this -- any idea what the nature of that report is going to be?


From: "Janse, Kevin"
Date: August 2, 2010 3:32:18 PM CDT
To: "Andrea Grimes"

Subject: RE: follow-up on Chief Brown's remarks to council today

Yes, sexual assaults are up from 265 (year to date last year) to 327 (this year to date). Although we have no way of telling how many sexual assaults are NOT reported we still encourage victims to report any inappropriate actions against them.

There is no one area that sexual assaults are up excessively however the Central, South Central and Northeast divisions have shown the greatest increase. Detectives have been asked to look for any trends or patterns into the recent increase and we will continue to educate the public on the dangers of excessive drinking as well as work with TABC and the entertainment industry to try to curtail the excessive drinking and the serving of alcohol to intoxicated patrons.

The contents of the report to the Mayor will not be released until after the meeting.

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