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National Institute of Justice Visiting Fellowship: Police Investigation of Rape-Roadblocks and Solutions

NCJ Number
232667
Date Published
December 2010
Length
77 pages
Author(s)
Martin D. Schwartz
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Publication Type
Report (Study/Research)
Grant Number(s)
2003-IJ-CX-1027
Annotation
This study involved interviews with detectives who have specialized in the investigation of sexual assaults as well as frontline patrol officers in order to determine their attitudes toward such cases.
Abstract
One conclusion from the findings is that most police officers, whether detectives or first responders, are aware of the basic, well-known "rape myths," and the "politically correct" answers that challenge those myths; for example, they know that women who dress revealingly can be raped, that women can be raped by men with whom they have previously had consensual sex, and that it is wrong to assume that women share some blame for being raped. Still, the findings from administering the rape scale to the officers indicate that despite many years of training, a large number of police officers still hold attitudes and opinions that undermine their ability to treat rape victims well. The officers were almost unanimously opposed to changing to a system of investigation and case processing that gives priority to protecting victims. Although this study had the objective of identifying "best practices" in police investigations of rape, the study concludes that there are no "best practices" worthy of replication or widespread use. Among the police officers in this study, there was virtually no interest in and some strong resistance to examining innovative and improved ways of investigating and managing rape cases. The dominant theme in current investigative techniques is the presumption that victims are lying and the initial job of the investigators is to expose it. The study recommends that police training in rape investigations be based in solid research and be related to the types of cases most often encountered, i.e. acquaintance rapes rather than stranger rapes. Interviews were conducted with 49 detectives who specialized in sexual assault. Samples of campus and municipal police officers were included in interviews with first responders. Tables, figures, 65 references, and appended interview instrument
Date Created: January 10, 2011