Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Portland Police Respond to Sex Crime Audit

Did anyone hear this on OPB this morning? This would be a great opportunity to respond and educate about PWCL's role in the process. If only we had a Communications Director.....

Portland Police Respond To Sex Crime Audit

Five months after a troubling report from the Portland city auditor’s office found major problems in how officials respond to sex crimes, police leaders outlined Tuesday how things are improving.

City auditors sounded cautiously supportive of the changes, and commissioners applauded the actions – though some problems remain. Rob Manning reports.

A sexual assault case typically starts with call to 9-1-1. But according to an audit completed last June, that’s also where the problems begin.

Principal auditor, Ken Gavette, says that 9-1-1 dispatchers are supposed to advise rape victims on how to preserve DNA, or other evidence. Gavette says that information was not always getting through.

Ken Gavette: “They actually had in the training policies and procedures a good piece of information about what they should say, about telling victims about appropriate washing, going to the bathroom, and things like that – but they weren’t consistently giving that information out.”

Gavette says in some cases, the dispatchers didn’t pass the message along because police officers or nurses called – and dispatchers assumed law enforcement or medical professionals knew what to do. 9-1-1 call center supervisor Toni Sexton says that policy has been tightened.

Toni Sexton: “And we also are making sure that from now and on to advise the caller not to bathe, or not to wash anything that may contain evidence.”

Sexton says that advice is now issued whether it’s the victim, a relative, or a nurse calling. But while some of the personnel issues may be resolved, some technical issues remain.

For instance, at the same time that dispatchers notify a uniform officer to respond, experts say another call should alert a victim’s advocate. Police say the advocate call will be automated in a few months.

And, principal auditor Ken Gavette says there are other remaining issues – like hospitals not having equipment to process rape kits. And he says Multnomah County has fewer medical examiners qualified to deal with rape victims, than smaller counties.

Ken Gavette: “Multnomah County area lags far behind the rest of the state. Just for example, I mean Coos County has 12, Linn County has 15, Jackson County 23, and Multnomah County has 12.”

Read the rest here:


Jenny said...

I am so angry that nowhere in any of the discussions of the audits does it discuss that fact that only 20% of survivors ever report a sexual assault to begin with.

So what happens to that other 80%? They probabaly don't even go to the hospital to receive medical care after an assault, and maybe they call PWCL for services months or even years later.

Portland probably is doing a lousy job solving the few rapes that are reported to the police, but I would suggest that there are far greater cultural barriers in place that prevent the majority of survivors from wanting to report in the first place.

Linda said...

Jenny - that is a perfect letter to the editor right there. you should send it to the Oregonian, for real.