Rape Is Way Up in Dallas, Only Partly Because the FBI Made Police Keep Better Count

Categories: Crime

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The first three months of 2014 have been exceptionally peaceful ones in Dallas. Robberies have dropped by 15 percent compared with the same period last year. Aggravated assaults are down 12 percent, murders a whopping 30 percent. There are still nine months to go, but the city is on pace for the second year in a row to have its safest year since 1966.

There's one exception, and it's a big one: Sexual assaults have jumped an alarming 37 percent over last year, from 82 to 112.

Not to worry, Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the City Council's Public Safety Committee this morning. This is "not a true depiction of what's happening with sexual assault. It's more of a reporting, [an] accounting increase."

That much is true. Last year, the FBI implemented a new policy changing what incidents police departments are required to report as rape. Before, it was defined rather archaically as "The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will."

As the FBI noted in a May 2013 FAQ, "Many agencies interpreted this definition as excluding a long list of sex offenses that are criminal in most jurisdictions, such as offenses involving oral or anal penetration, penetration with objects, and rapes of males."

The new definition -- "Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or
anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." -- requires departments to present a more accurate accounting of sexual assault in their crime reports.

Brown didn't delve into the new or old definition of rape, but reassured council member that the change has no impact on how victims are treated or rapists are prosecuted. If the FBI were still using the old definition, Brown said, the number of sexual assaults in Dallas would be flat.

It's not clear that's actually the case.

"The numbers are still up," says Bobbie Villareal, executive director of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center.

At Presbyterian Hospital, where the organization is based, the number of women seeking treatment for sexual assault is up roughly 20 percent in the first three months of 2014 compared with the same period last year. The number of rapes being committed by strangers has increased, as has the number committed by those known to the victim. The number of rapists with multiple victims has also increased. There's been an increase across all categories of sexual assault, Villareal says, and not just at Presby. Parkland and the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council have reported similar trends.

It's hard to tell how much of this is an increase in reporting and how much is an increase in the number of incidents, but it is "not good news," Villareal says. It's certainly not the non-event Brown described to council.

What is good news is that the sexual assaults statistics compiled by Dallas PD and departments across the country now offer a much more accurate reflection of what's actually going on.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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10 comments
gritsforbreakfast1
gritsforbreakfast1

Two things: 1) DPD doesn't control what the FBI's definitions are and lots of agencies stats increased as a result of the change. 2) According to the Uniform Crime Report data reported to DPS, Dallas PD recorded 1,175 sexual assault incidents in FY 2012, so whatever definition you're using, the numbers in this blog post don't sound correct, see:


http://www.dps.texas.gov/crimereports/12/citCh7.pdf

markzero
markzero

Brown could easily substantiate his assertion by telling us what the revised figures for the past few years would be, under the new rules. Any bets as to whether he does?


Glad to hear the reporting is closer to reality now, at least.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Was it  like the under 50.00 dollar solution that reduced shoplifting reporting by some amazing percentage ?

Tell me what you what the figures to say and I can pencil whip them into shape.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Gavin..... contacts lost......went from 6 to zero.

Actually, as the page loads, it shows commentes, then wipes them out. Don't know if it's DO or livefyre, but it's broken.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

If someone gets penetrated by that cloud hard-on in the banner ad that often appears here, or an icicle, would that count?

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Doesn't matter if the number dropoed to zero. County won't allocate funds to test the kits.

Assholes.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

They didn't have the tequila I axed for...

ruthellaowens
ruthellaowens

@bvckvs @ozonelarryb

They have gone militia on us. They have plenty resources. 

And 'clowns to the left' haven't anything to do with it since the GOP hijacked the government two decades ago. 


I am pretty sure you don't have to marry a man if you are not intent upon doing so. I am for equal rights for everyone. I am black, female, old, Native American, poor. I know what restrictions feel like.

Plastic bags were a bad idea, I preferred paper. And the city used to require plastic bags for garbage at the curb. That was dumb, with strays everywhere. I have watched decades of this nonsense.



ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

1 your line between your 2 points doesn't pass the logic test. You maade 2 + 2 add up to about 17.

2. The police have no input on testing the kits. County, DA, Crime lab...

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