How Police and Investigators Can Fail Rape Victims
With higher volumes of crimes being reported across the country, many police officers are overburdened with large caseloads. When their resources are exhausted, officers may end up failing victims by carelessly reporting the event and mismanaging the investigation.
Victims of sexual assault and rape are the ones that suffer the most when police officers are not attentive to detail or concerned first with the victim’s rights and well-being.
After a sexually violent crime, it is common for victims to develop apprehension about speaking or reliving the event, the medical condition is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Police officers who have not been trained to recognize PTSD and its symptoms may believe that the victim is being uncooperative during an investigation. Two of the typical symptoms of PTSD are avoidance of the event and shutting down emotionally making discovery information from victims a delicate and difficult process. So instead of being patient and giving victims the time that they need to adjust to their situation, officers may start pressuring them to tell their story over and over, often using the same tactics they employ during criminal interrogations.
Incidents have happened where police officers judge that a case isn’t going anywhere or their resources are exhausted, and they may destroy any evidence associated with that case. When this happens with rape cases, it means that the rapist may end up hurting more people because a pattern of their repeat behavior couldn’t be discovered. Some areas of the country are trying to prevent this from happening by making it illegal to destroy rape kits and other evidence, such as victim’s clothing or bedding, until after the statute of limitations has passed. This could help countless victims as a pattern of behavior could be shown, or DNA could be matched. Unfortunately, many police departments are given a free pass by district attorneys regarding the destruction of evidence in a case.
Not Interviewing Potential Suspects
Statistics have shown that many victims of sexual assault and rape often know their attackers so they may be able to give the investigating officers crucial information about their alleged assailants. Sadly, Police officers will claim that they don’t always have adequate resources and time available during investigations, and this may lead to no interrogations of suspects or other people of interest by police. This prevents the possibility of obtaining a confession or other leads about the case that could help bring the rapists to justice.
Refusing to Upload Rape Kits to CODIS
CODIS is a national database that stores DNA from crimes. It’s especially beneficial for solving cases where the offenders travel from place to place to try to avoid detection because it allows police officers in different regions to be able to look for patterns to more easily find them. However, many rape kits that contain the DNA of an alleged offender may not get uploaded to the database for many reasons. This makes it harder not just for the primary victim, but other victims and police departments across the nation.
Due to the sensitive nature of a rape crime, all victims be treated with respect and dignity, no matter what their gender, race, religion, economic or political position. Some police officers have the mentality, either through sheer ignorance or lack of substantial training, that the crime must somehow be the victim’s fault. Mocking an accuser or “victim shaming” prevents them from opening up about the details of the event and could be a reason for a case not being solved.
If you find that you have concerns regarding the way that your own case is being handled by the police, we strongly urge you to contact our team at KBA Attorneys right away. One of our trained legal experts will be happy to offer you legal guidance in a compassionate manner that will ensure that you get the respect that you deserve and that justice is served.