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NIJ ConferenceJune 2011
Bethany Backes:…our brave souls please come up and sit in the front row? I appreciate it. Move yourself up. No one's taking me up on the offer. Alright, well when people come in, because I know this is going to be a jam-packed session, please scoot down or whatever to let them have some seats. That would be great. But good afternoon, and welcome to “How Collaboration between Researchers and Police Chiefs Can Improve the Quality of Sexual Assault Investigations: A Look at Los Angeles.” I think that title says it all. My name is Bethany Backes. I'm a social science analyst in the violence and victimization research division, and as you can see, we have a jam-packed presentation for you today. That's why we're starting right on time. And evidently we're getting pictures taken, as well, which is very exciting. So each year, as you know, the NIJ Conference brings together researchers and practitioners, and we emphasize the importance of collaborative partnerships. An example of such a partnership is the one you'll hear about today between the Los Angeles Police Department, Arizona State University and California State University, Los Angeles; and has evolved to include the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. Results and implications stemming from this work will be discussed over the next hour, and we look forward to your participation during the discussion section of this panel. Our distinguished panelists include Dr. Cassia Spohn, a professor at Arizona State University; Dr. Katharine Tellis, assistant professor at California State University, Los Angeles; Assistant Chief Michel Moore of the Los Angeles Police Department; Section Chief Robert Casey of the FBI; and Joanne Archambault, executive director of End Violence Against Women International. Because we have five panelists I'm being very brief, so any additional information you would like to know about our panelists, please check the back of your program book or come up afterwards and find them at the conference. I ask that you hold all of your questions until the end, and at this time if you could please turn all of your electronic devices to silent or vibrate so we have no distractions during this panel. And with that, we'll start with Dr. Spohn.
Cassia Spohn: Good afternoon and welcome. First, Kate and I would like to take a moment or two and thank Assistant Chief Moore and Section Chief Casey for agreeing to join us on this panel today, as it is certainly beyond the call of duty for them to do so. For Chief Moore and the Los Angeles Police Department it is a testament to the extent of their cooperation with us as researchers. And Section Chief Casey was remarkably responsive to our numerous questions and receptive to our invitation to join us on this panel today, so again, thanks.
Because the emphasis of this conference is bridging research and practice, it is important to situate our study in the larger national discussion that has taken place recently regarding sexual assault and the law enforcement response to violence against women. For example, in September, a United States Senate hearing was convened to discuss the chronic failure to report and investigate sexual assault by law enforcement in the United States. And witnesses at that hearing from a number of jurisdictions testified about the misclassification and downgrading of sexual assaults from felonies to misdemeanors and even to no-crimes. There also was discussion about the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Standards and clearance criteria with a particular focus on the outdated definition of forcible rape and the criteria for unfounding and exceptionally clearing cases.
So the present study gathered quantitative and qualitative data on sexual assaults from six different agencies in Los Angeles County. To examine outcomes over time, we were provided with data on all reports of sexual assaults that involved male suspects and female victims over the age of 12 that were reported to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department from 2005 to 2009. To provide a more detailed examination of the dynamics of victim, suspect and case characteristics, we also read and coded 944 redacted case files that were provided by the two agencies. And these case files included the initial report by the responding officer; all of the follow-up reports by the investigating officer to whom the case was assigned; summaries, or in some cases verbatim accounts of interviews with victims, witnesses and suspects; and then finally the results of the SART exam if the crime was reported within 72 hours and the victim agreed to the SART exam. Finally, to contextualize the quantitative data, we conducted 123 interviews with sex crimes detectives, prosecutors and sexual assault victims. The four issues that we are going to focus our presentation on today are first, the problematic and outdated antiquated, some would say, definition of forcible rape for UCR crime reporting purposes. And this is an issue that has generated national attention recently. The second is that our analysis revealed that very few reports of sexual assault result in arrest, the filing of felony charges and conviction. Moreover, our analysis revealed that the locus of case attrition resides in the decision to arrest or not, as most cases are filtered out at this initial stage in the process. The third issue is the overuse, we would argue the misuse, of the exceptional clearance. And the fourth is the need for specialized training of sex crimes detectives, which is an issue that came through loud and clear in our interviews and which the LAPD has already begun to address by developing a week-long training for their sex crimes detectives. So first a little bit about the definitional issue. Despite the fact that most experts would agree that sexual penetration with an object, oral copulation and sodomy are crimes that fit neatly within the definition of rape or sexual assault, the UCR — or the FBI definition for UCR crime reporting purposes excludes these acts from the definition of forcible rape, which you can see on this slide. These crimes, these three crimes, are all included with less serious sexual batteries which involve fondling or touching with sexual connotation as Part II sexual offenses. The implications of excluding these crimes from the definition of forcible rape are illustrated by the data provided on this slide. From 2005 through 2009, the LAPD received 5,031 reports of rape and attempted rape that fit within the FBI's definition of forcible rape. They received over 1,000 reports of penetration with an object, oral copulation and sodomy. And adding these cases to the rapes and reported rapes that fall within the definition of forcible rape would increase the number of rapes known to the police for the LAPD by 17 percent. The figures for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are very similar. As you can see, they received 2,269 reports of rape and attempted rape and 630 reports of penetration with an object, oral copulation and sodomy. And again, including these crimes with the crimes that meet the definition of forcible rape would increase the reports of forcible rape to the sheriff's department by 27 percent. Stated another way, 17.4 percent of all the reports received by the Los Angeles Police Department and 21.7 percent of the reports received by the sheriff's department are — or were — penetration with an object, oral copulation and sodomy. So that excluding these serious crimes from the counts of forcible rapes known to the police presents a misleading and inaccurate picture of the prevalence of sexual assault in the United States. So moving to the second issue for discussion today, the issue of case attrition, an important objective of this project was to document the case outcomes for reports of sexual assault that were received by the two agencies, and to identify the stages in the process where attrition was likely to occur. So beginning with the Los Angeles Police Department, from 2005 to 2009 they received 5,031 reports of rape and attempted rape, and here we only include those crimes that fit within the FBI's definition of forcible rape. Most cases, as you can see, were either cleared — about 46 percent of the cases were cleared — or the investigation was continuing, 43 percent. There were only 546 cases, just over 10 percent, that were unfounded by the police during this five-year time period. And of the 2,300 cases that were cleared, the majority were cleared not by arrest, but by exceptional means. Twelve point two percent were cleared by arrest and 33.5 percent were cleared by exceptional means. There were 591 cases that resulted in the arrest of at least one adult suspect, and of these cases, the prosecutor filed charges in 82.2 percent of the cases. Now this is a higher charging rate than is typically found in most studies of prosecutorial charging decisions in sexual assault cases. Most studies find rates of around 50 percent. It reflects the fact that the Los Angeles Police Department — and the sheriff's department does this as well — presents “problematic cases” to the district attorney for a pre-arrest filing decision. Many of these cases are cases where the police have probable cause to make an arrest, but they present the case to the district attorney so that they can get confirmation from the district attorney that charges would be filed. And if the district attorney determines that the evidence in the case does not meet their standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the case is rejected — informally, not formally — but the case is rejected informally and then it is cleared, we argued, inappropriately, by exceptional means. Use of this pre-arrest screening process and overuse of the exceptional clearance reduces the LAPD's arrest rate and increases the formal charging rate, that is the charging rate based on cases that result in the arrest of a suspect. So another way to conceptualize the case attrition that we see in these cases is to simply look at the percentages of cases that survived from one stage to the next. And as you can see on this slide, again we have the 5,031 reports of rape and attempted rape, 12.2 percent of which were cleared by the arrest of the suspect; 9.7 percent resulted in the filing of charges, and 7.8 percent resulted in a conviction. Four point six percent resulted in a prison sentence. In other words, fewer than one out of every 20 reports of forcible rape resulted in some type of imprisonment. Now the case outcomes for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are similar, but somewhat differed. And let me just point out one thing about this charge; and that is whereas the Los Angeles Police Department cleared 45 percent of their cases, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department cleared or solved a startling 88 percent of their cases. And this reflects both a higher arrest rate than we found in the Los Angeles Police Department and a higher rate of exceptional clearance. In fact, exceptional clearance is the modal case clearance type for the LACSD, which really calls into question the use of the term “exceptional” with respect to the sheriff's department. And I'll skip that.
So the third issue that we wanted to discuss today is the issue of clearing cases by exceptional means. According to the Uniform Crime Reporting handbook, offenses can be cleared or solved either by arrest or by exceptional means. As you can see here, a case can be cleared by arrest if at least one person is arrested, charged and turned over to the court for prosecution. Regarding exceptional clearances, the handbook states that there may be occasions when law enforcement has conducted a thorough investigation, has exhausted all leads and has identified a suspect but is nonetheless unable to make an arrest. In this instance, the agency can clear the case by exceptional means provided that each of these four criteria is met. There has to be a clearly identified suspect; sufficient probable cause to support arresting, charging and turning over to the courts for prosecution; they must know the exact location of the offender; and there must be a reason outside the control of law enforcement which prevents the arrest. We sought clarification from the FBI as to their intended interpretation of the meaning of “charging” and “enough information.” Section Chief Casey and his staff clarified that “charging” means “a booking procedure by the police” and “enough information” means probable cause to make an arrest. In other words, cases are to be cleared by arrest if the police arrest and book a suspect and can be cleared by exceptional means if the police have probable cause to make an arrest, but there is something beyond their control that precludes them from doing so. The point is that district attorneys' charging decisions are irrelevant and play no role in what the FBI considers a cleared or solved case. To illustrate the types of cases that might be cleared by exceptional means, the handbook provides a list of examples, many of which involve the death of an offender or an offender who is unable to be arrested because he or she is being prosecuted for another crime in a different jurisdiction or because extradition has been denied. One of the examples provided is when the victim refuses to cooperate in the prosecution, but there is an added proviso which sates that, in this instance, each of the other three criteria must still be met. So as shown on this slide, the outcomes of cases reported in 2008 were very similar to the outcomes for cases from 2005 to 2009 that were discussed earlier. However, because we had access to the case files, we were able to identify cases that resulted in an arrest but were cleared exceptionally when the district attorney refused to file charges, which is something that both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department do. We also were able to calculate case outcomes for cases in which the victim and the suspect were strangers and cases in which the victim and the suspect were non-strangers, which I probably won't have time to get to. But turning first to the cases that were cleared exceptionally, 12.8 percent of the LAPD cases and 9 percent of the sheriff's department cases were cases in which the police initially made an arrest but then cleared the case by exceptional means when the district attorney decided not to file charges. It is important to point out that these cases should not have been cleared by exceptional means given statements in the UCR handbook indicating that the exceptional clearance is to be used when factors beyond the control of law enforcement prevent them from making an arrest. Adding these cases to the cases that were cleared by arrest more than doubles the LAPD arrest rate from 11.7 percent to 24.5 percent and increases the sheriff's department arrest rate from 31.7 to 40.7 percent. Reclassifying cases where an arrest was made but the district attorney refused to file charges, in other words, as exceptional clearances, substantially reduces the official arrest rates for each agency. And these patterns are particularly pronounced for cases involving non-strangers, so that if we add the percentage of cases that were cleared by exceptional means after an arrest was made but the district attorney refused to file charges, we see that the arrest rate for cases involving non-strangers increases by an even greater proportion.
Katharine Tellis:. Detectives evidenced what we termed either an innocent until proven guilty approach to victims or a guilty until proven innocent approach. I'll provide examples in a moment. But a third very important factor here that can't be lost is the district attorney's office. Interviewees told us that office policy is such that charges will not be filed in non-stranger cases unless there is an interview with the victim beforehand and corroborative evidence other than the victim's word. This persists despite legal reforms to rape law in the 1980s and 90s. The key issue here is the need for a thorough investigation. Not that the police run out and arrest someone simply because he or she said that somebody raped me. Detectives who evidenced an innocent until proven guilty approach emphasize that a detective must want to work sex crimes, otherwise they will do a disservice to victims and to the department. They also emphasize that, by and large, victims are cooperative, false reports are rare and the police and prosecutor set a tone to which victims respond. Detectives from both departments who fit this profile stated that sexual assault is treated as a second-class crime by department leadership, and nothing will change until that does. Detectives who have an instant guilty until proven innocent approach emphasize that real rape involves strangers and cases in which alcohol and drugs are involved are what a detective described as “self-victimization,” meaning that victims must be held accountable for where they go and how much they drink. These detectives expressed anything from refusal to a strong reluctance to make an arrest in a “he-said-she-said” case, and reiterated that victim credibility is ruined if there are any inconsistencies in statements, whereas their colleagues emphasized that the manner in which patrol detectives and district attorneys gather information can generate the very inconsistencies that, ultimately, opposing counsel can capitalize upon. And bear in mind that from a macro perspective, both types of detectives are impacted by departmental culture, clearance policies, and supervisory mandates. Interestingly, we interviewed some detectives and prosecutors who fell somewhat in the middle in that they weren't completely one way or the other, as you see here. “The most difficult, least-prosecuted cases involved my righteous victims because they're so traumatized to go forward if we find the individual who did it and get them through the court proceeding. I wouldn't say that it's about holding the hand of the victim — that's a lot of the reason why detectives don't like sex crimes — it's not. But you have to be compassionate and compatible. If you got stuck in sex crimes and don't want to be there, you're not going to do it well.” In this example, we see a detective expressing a level of sensitivity, but it's reserved for righteous victims of stranger rape. And a qualifier such as “righteous” implies that a significant portion are not. And this is important for training implications, which we'll address shortly. Returning to the issue of a thorough investigation: although occurring in both agencies, taking non-stranger cases to the DA in lieu of making an arrest is more salient in the LAPD, given the lower arrest rate, whereas the LASD is more likely to clear a case exceptionally without an identified suspect. The three quotes you see here are representative examples that provide further context to sexual assault case attrition in Los Angeles.
Number one: “You're not holding off on making an arrest in cases where you believe there is a case. We make arrests right away because there is no reason to lie. I don't want to give impression of being anti-victim, but you have to be aware of victimology here.” Two: “On all crimes, if you have evidence, you make an arrest. The pre-arrest screening is unique to sexual assault because usually there is no evidence. In most crimes, there is no relationship between the suspect and victim, such as burglary and auto theft. It makes it more difficult, because there is most likely a relationship between the suspect and victim.” Three: “If we get a DA reject, it should be “investigation continued.” The DAs write “lack of evidence” a lot, but poses a problem for us in clearing the case exceptionally. The detective manual says you have to have sufficient, admissible evidence.”
Our interview data revealed that discussions of public safety continue to implicitly reinforce stranger danger as the most serious, which has the effect of relegating non-stranger sexual assault to a second-class crime status. Detective discretion is particularly salient in non-stranger cases due to delayed reporting, so patrol is much less likely to arrive at a crime in progress. This speaks to the importance of gathering statements in he-said-she-said investigations, given the evidentiary challenges. The evidence in its totality suggest that multiple factors have set the stage for detectives to take a case for a reject versus doing a DA consult in service of a thorough investigation. This dynamic is reaffirmed through the erroneous belief that a case can be solved by clearing it exceptionally if the DA declines to file for insufficient evidence. Now the third quote on the bottom can be understood as both correct and incorrect. It is incorrect in that sufficient evidence means probable cause to make an arrest, not the DA's standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. But it is correct in that if one were to use the DA's assessment of sufficiency of evidence as the basis for a clearance, a DA reject for insufficient evidence would still be a misuse of the exceptional clearance. Another important point that can't be lost in the discussion of sexual assault case attrition is the use of non-crime reports. The LAPD has “undetermined” sexual assault reports and the LASD has “suspicious circumstances possible” rape non-crime reports. We are told that these are used most often in he-said-she-said cases in which alcohol is involved and there is some form of impaired memory on the part of the victim. Some officials with whom we spoke referred to non-crime reports as “fighting crime with an eraser,” depending on the detective or supervisor who reviews the reports and ascertains whether they should be reclassified into a crime report. It is important to remember that non-crime reports do not count in department stats and thus do not require clearances. An important related issue is that LAPD's COMPSTAT, an indispensable tool for command staff who hold subordinates accountable for clearance rates, focuses on Part I crimes, and police executives allocate departmental resources per Part I crime numbers. Turning to the translational aspect of bridging research and practice, the findings from this study affirm the notion that an expanded Part I definition of rape will increase the effectiveness of the law enforcement response to it. In Los Angeles, the three prominent crimes of note that fell outside the extant Part I definition were oral copulation, sodomy and rape with a foreign object. We should discuss the national implications of an expanded definition to keep with the uniformity that is desired in the UCR program. Any changes should be consistent and applied to both the UCR and NIBRS programs. If the definition is broadened, sexual assault data will for the first time be reliable and valid.
Michel Moore: Well good afternoon, everyone. It is my pleasure to be here, and I really thank the NIJ for the invitation for LAPD to play a role in today's presentation. How many of you had lunch out there? Okay, for the rest of you, you had lunch and you're asleep. So I'll try to keep the hands that just went up awake through my small portion of this. How many of you out there are — this is the audience participation part — how many of you out there are researchers? Okay, and how many of you are law enforcement professionals, whether it be actually in a law enforcement agency or prosecutors? Okay, and then the defense industry? Not the guys that fly the jets, but the other guys? Men and women. Yeah, not defense department. So, I've got mostly, I see, researchers in here. What I hope to draw out to you is a couple of points as to the importance of a good, solid partnership with the agency in which you're working. For those of you who have been in this business for a long time, this is going to be stuff 101. For those of you that are little younger in this field, I would ask that you just take my offering to you as friendly counsel or encouragement. This is a study that the department has been involved with now for almost two years, and it was a study that, frankly, preceded my arrival as an assistant chief with the Los Angeles Police Department. I was a deputy chief working parts north of our city and working on the geographic areas and frankly this was one of those studies that they did downtown. When I arrived downtown a year and a half ago or more, now-chief Beck was then-chief of detectives when he signed on to this study and I inherited the responsibility of seeing it through. And it's been a very powerful investigation of our manner in which we go about doing our sexual assault investigations, manner in which we work with the district attorney's office, how we benchmark or peer with our LA County counterparts as far as the sheriff's department, which basically provides policing services outside of LA city proper. And in a path forward, where do we go from here? How do we improve on this very important area? What you see up here is some ideas about — that I think are applicable regardless of whether it's sexual assault investigations that I've talked about the importance of, or some other study, whether it be interactions with police performance and at-risk activity. Or it be a study of how we go about our forensic sciences. Or any of the other vast array of research projects. Because what it talks about is bridging the gap between the practitioner, the pragmatic, police manager that's sitting here and figuring out how we're going to make ends meet and get our police resources out there and maintain the public trust and improve crime reduction strategies and the academic world, which, at times, to us practitioners can seem rather remote and very assertive and confident in one's view as to the way the world should be. But not necessarily going to reach me as far as the ability of how investment of my limited resources in their project is going to move our agency farther in the path of building and maintaining public trust and improving the effectiveness of our agency. That, as you know, is the basic challenge you have as researchers each day when you walk into an agency to propose a study — it's how do you bridge that gap? I would suggest that what LAPD recognizes is because when we put our name and we're involved in a study — I was in an earlier presentation today where we were referenced as part of a study group, and I think our lunch speaker referenced an LAPD stat as far as the impact on his remarks in regards to decoupling the impact of racial discrimination in our criminal justice system — so one of the things you need to know is that working with the high echelon, as they call us, I guess, at this point, the chiefs, the chief officers, in bridging the gap: Make it meaningful. It has to be something that we can see where we're going. And your advocacy can be counterproductive to that because, in all candor, if you're wanting to take the agency someplace, generally most police executives like to think that they're taking the agency someplace, and so someone else taking them there is generally not something that's going to work well. So, getting the nose of the camel in the tent involves a coaxing if you will of working with the agency head or senior executives and talk about what are areas that you wish to explore? Things you'd like to examine? Areas you would like to challenge the status quo? And presenting one as a friend of the agency and with a research design that's going to promote fairness, that's going to promote a counterbalance of other ideas as well as your own. The things that are outside of your initial impressions, in a field that you may have spent a lot of time in, or a field that you've spent very little time in but you have an area of interest is something that you'll garner support and admiration and participation and investment most importantly from the agency with which you wish to partner. It also will promote ongoing communication because unfortunately however you plan for it to go — someone once said that 85 percent of the time, the plan goes out the window in the first two minutes — your plan of the research probably will not last the first study, aspect of it, the first exploration, the first collection of data. And when that happens, again, senior buy-in will help you with that. The other thing that is important for LAPD has been a person, a practitioner on the ground — a subject matter expert in this area within a robbery/homicide division who will know pragmatically day in and day out, many times better than senior officials, how well this stuff really matters in practice. If we change something, or if things are proposed, or an argument is proposed as to how things are, does that really, how does that pass in reality of the day-to-day, out in the field? Does that ring true? Because when it doesn't ring true with a case detective on a street, it doesn't much matter what the researcher says. The chief executive would be wise to look and wonder “Why the gap?” And so that person on the ground, and their tying in with the researcher, can help in all these arenas as well. But at the end of the day, it cycles back to if you don't have the chief executive on board and believing and willing to commit and invest the organizational focus on this initiative and over the duration of it, of the couple years it will take to get through, then will all parties walk away happy? Because a win-win is not just about the process, but it's at the end of the day, that when the research is done, is that the organization feels that it is going on a path that's going to be productive, and it's going to be building on improving not only its image, but its relationship with the public, its relationship of trust with advocacy groups on a variety of subjects who have a very distinct interest in what specifically we're doing on this particular subset of work that we call law enforcement. So I again welcome the opportunity to present to you, to be a part of this. I look forward to your questions to gauge your interest as to LAPD's involvement in this particular study or in all studies, and I also, as Chief Davis said this morning in the earlier session, to challenge you to stay at the table with us. Because we can get bristled and stiff and unresponsive to your cajoling and your encouragement, but we need you. The academic world is needed by us practitioners because so frankly, oftentimes, we're plowing the field that we don't look up and realize, you know, it's the wrong field, or that we're going in a direction, spending huge amount of public monies and trust to engage in an endeavor that at the end of the day is not proving or providing the results that we had hoped to obtain. So, I will recognize that your need is never more — oh, I screwed that up — we need you more than ever. Put it that way. And we appreciate you being there, and we do welcome your passion for this, but as you deal with passionate people, that's where sometimes the rub is. And we come from different cultures at times, and in working through that police leadership, form those relationships on a basis of trust and a basis of giving and taking honestly towards where do we get to the best consequence for the agency in maintaining the public's trust and you will have a winner. Thank you.
Robert Casey: First of all, I kind of want to emphasize that the FBI's UCR program, for law enforcement agencies to participate, it is strictly voluntary. We have almost 18,000 agencies that participate, which covers about 99 percent of the United States population. We, the FBI, have neither a hammer to make somebody contribute nor a carrot to entice someone to contribute. I think the greatest motivator I've found is getting — for law enforcement agencies to stay in the UCR program, because most agencies are facing severe fiscal constraints — is the embarrassment that the media will put on law enforcement if they no longer contribute. If you don't contribute data after contributing data for 50, 60, 70, 80 years, the first question is what are you trying to hide? And so the media has been a great friend of ours to encourage law enforcement agencies to participate, especially in the hate crime statistics program. And we don't get the participation that we get for crime in the United States. We work the UCR program like we work all programs at our criminal justice information services division; we have a shared management concept. Whether it's dealing with identification, [unclear], NCIC, criminal history, law enforcement online, UCR. We, the FBI, Greg in the UCR program or myself as a section chief, we do not arbitrarily make changes to the system without the buy-in and concurrence of our law enforcement partners. To do this, we break the region of the country into four separate regions, and we have four regions and we have a federal working group, so we have five working groups altogether. They meet twice a year. Whenever we want to propose a change to any of our systems, and now we're going to key in on UCR, we go to these working groups and say, “We would like to add a category to hate crime. We would like to expand a definition in the UCR system. We would like to have a system to encourage greater law enforcement officers killed and assaulted data. We want to expand that data collection. We always seek their concurrence. And these five regional, four regional and a federal working groups, they vote on that. And that's forwarded on to our subcommittees which also meet twice a year. We have a subcommittee that only deals with UCR issues. Now these subcommittees will either vote the working groups' recommendations up or down, and then they will decide whether to forward it to the advisory policy board, which consists of approximately 40 senior law enforcement officials from throughout the country. I'm talking about representatives from National Sheriff's Association, Major Cities Chiefs, IACP, National Prosecutors' Association. We have representatives from parole, probation and the Department of Defense. They get these recommendations; they have the final vote. Then they forward it on to the director at the FBI. If the director at the FBI agrees, then we will implement the changes. I'll give you an example. That's one way to get a change to the UCR system. Another way is there is a congressionally mandated change. Last year congress mandated for FBI's hate crime statistics program that we start collecting gender and gender-based crimes. So we're doing that. But the pushback, almost immediately, form law enforcement is, “Look FBI, you're giving us another unfunded mandate,” and they do not like to do that. If it is congressionally mandated, eventually they will come around and provide the data because it's the law. We give them 18 months to implement the changes because besides a reluctance to change, they always come back to us — and they're correct — that changes to the record management systems costs money. And their fiscal budgets may work different than the federal budgets, so they have to request money, they have to hire a contractor and they have to implement the changes. So those are the two ways we can change anything within UCR, either through the APB process or through a congressionally mandated change. Now UCR does not just consist of crime in the United States. We have summary reporting, which is kind of what folks have been talking about as far as the definitions being out of date, and I agree with that 100 percent. We have NIBRS, we have Hate Crime Statistics and we have the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted program. I want to go forward with this kind of quick here to get to NIBRS. In summary reporting we collect in eight areas. We use what we call the hierarchy rule. Say somebody stole your car, assaulted you, committed a rape and then murdered somebody in their house. The only crime that we would count for all those offenses dealing with the same subject and victims would be the count of murder, because that is the hierarchy, the highest rule. That's summary. That's the system that's been around for 80 years. NIBRS is a much more robust system of reporting crime. Now, you see the definition, the summary definition, of rape: Carnal knowledge of a woman against her will. Under NIBRS, we collect data on rapes of both male and females, forcible sodomy, penetration with an object and forcible fondling. This data that's collected in NIBRS is much more robust than summary. I just want to put this map up here. It shows how many states are fully NIBRS at this point, which states have been approved for NIBRS and which states are not participating in NIBRS at all. Now right now, 44 percent of law enforcement agencies are contributing their crime data to us vis-à-vis NIBRS and not summary. Earlier I talked about the APB process. The Women's Law Project in 2002, I think it was six days after 9-11, wrote a letter to the director at FBI, Robert Mulder, asking him to change the definition of rape in the UCR summary program. That request was brought through the APB process. It went to the subcommittees, and the subcommittees voted it down. They said the FBI has this newer system called NIBRS that is more robust, that collects greater data, so we think instead of changing the definition of summary rape, the definition of rape in summary, let's encourage law enforcement to transition over to NIBRS. So they voted that request down to change the definition. At the last two subcommittees that we met, and we met about a year ago in Boston and just a few months ago in Kansas city, once again Greg and I presented to the subcommittee the summary definition of rape issue, because there's not a week or month that goes by that we do not get a request from either a congressman or a senator asking us to change the definition. And a lot of that's based upon that judiciary committee hearing that was held in September 2010. I believe there's advocacy groups out there that are printing out, mass producing requests and they're mailing them to their congressmen they're mailing them to me, they're mailing them to Greg. The congressman gets this he says “Well that's probably a good idea. As one of my constituents, I'm going to ask the FBI to address this.” So over the last year, twice we've gone back to the subcommittees, both time the subcommittees once again said no, let's encourage law enforcement to transition to NIBRS. Forty-four percent of the country is presenting NIBRS now. Maybe this will encourage them to do more. Now this topic became kind of quite heated at the APB meeting just a few weeks ago. The representative of Florida, Donna Uzzell, who works for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said she was appalled that this discussion is still going on, that we should do something, and she requested that this request be presented to all the working groups, and then bring it through the process back to the APB. That's what we're going to do at our next working group's meetings, which — Greg I forgot when they are — in August. So this issue is not going away. As I said, I am in agreement. I think everybody in the UCR program is in agreement that the definition should be changed. But once again, unless law enforcement agrees and encourages us to do so, it won't happen. Now I can tell you the two things. One, I mentioned earlier, why law enforcement pushes back. They push back because of the cost. We, the FBI, can give them no money to change their record management systems. Senior law enforcement officials believe if we broaden the definition of rape in summary, that the number of rapes in their territory will go up, and their law enforcement agencies will look bad, their politicians will look bad, and that's not a good thing for them. So, as I said to Kate earlier, I said, “I think the best way to get the definition changed would be a congressional mandate.” I don't see law enforcement jumping on this to change the definition of rape in the summary program. Having said that, one thing I think Kate and I, I know we disagree about this, and probably Chief Moore and I disagree — out of that hearing back in September 2010, there was a lot of talk about the summary definition of rape is impacting or encouraging law enforcement to not conduct investigations when a victim comes forward alleging that she was sexually assaulted. I have been in law enforcement almost 25 years; I worked violent crime in the city of Detroit for 10 years as both an agent and a supervisor. I do not know a law enforcement official in this country, when a victim comes forward and says, “I was sexually assaulted,” they do not say, “Whoa, stop, let me go to the FBI UCR summary definition of rape to see if you were really sexually assaulted or not.” That is not the case, but hearing that was sort of the perception, I just adamantly disagree with that. Our definition has no influence on whether an investigation is started, in my opinion. We're not here to talk about hate crime. I can stay after a little bit longer if you'd like me to, to talk about these other programs, our publication schedules, some future stuff. But here's my name and contact information. I think to change the definition is going to be difficult. I encourage you to keep working at it. I think it's worthwhile. I'm a proud owner of three rescue animals, three rescue dogs. I have been working with various animal right advocacy groups in the Washington, D.C., area because they want to add animals as a victim in NIBRS. And I am a strong advocate and proponent of that. Working in the FBI, being a section chief over UCR, I have not been able to get that change through the process. So I have great empathy for, or I have great sympathy for those who are trying to change the definition. I do give you my word, and Greg and Nancy, we will do anything we can to work with you, but we're just facilitators. We do not have a vote on if the definition will be changed through the APB process. Thank you.
Moore: I think there was a proposition as to what would local law enforcement feel as to the broadening of the UCR — that rape would be broadened to say, sexual assault? Couple of things: One, as to cost, I can't apply a measure as to what it would cost for our systems, for instance, within the state of California, who is testing NIBRS, I think we've been testing NIBRS for quite a while, what it would take to take our Legacy systems and change it so it could accommodate not just rapes but it could accommodate the other assaults that were talked about here: oral cop, rape with a foreign object, sodomy and those type things. So I can't attest to whether we could do this or not on the basis of cost, but as to doing it or not because of a public perception, I would adamantly disagree that we would have any aversion to expanding UCR to include sexual assaults to be more representative of the fact that sexual assaults, women and men, occur and that what's in the summary data over the last 80-some odd years would benefit from this expansion. Having said that, the last thing I would say is we are driven in the state of California. We do use UCR, and in our COMPSTAT, or inspection process, those are the primary metrics of our looking at whether crime is up or down. We do have the ability and do often get to secondary, Part II crimes and do analysis, but our primary focus, when we bring an area command in to talk about sexual assaults, they're talking about rapes. In there, are we missing oral cops, are we missing rapes with foreign objects? Yes. And in doing that, does that mean that some organizational focus is pulled away from that very important crime or crimes? And I would have to agree that there is some organization pulled away. So on an individual basis in an area of unit basis, our people are applying resources, but at a senior level, do I see those crimes? And I do not, because we would count rape as some 1,200 offenses in the city of Los Angeles over the course of a year with varied — and is not seen an additional 20 percent of sexual assaults that are not recognized because they're not on a UCR program standard. So, this is, as in all areas, there is not clean, immediate answer; it gets messy. But it's something, again, that form our perspective it's a good discussion, a point of sitting in and debating and understanding and trying to figure out how do we find common ground? Perhaps one of the arguments here is that it's not UCR at all, perhaps it's not even NIBRS across the entire country. I don't know. There's probably some naysayers to that. Because if you look at the majority of the country, your immediate impression of 50 states, you've got 44 of them that are in NIBRS, there's probably a reason why — oh it's not? — forty-four percent of law enforcement agencies are in NIBRS, so with that majority invested in that, perhaps if that's more expansive, I would argue [unclear]. So sometimes the answer the advocates might have, which is to get congress to change this, maybe even would be argued — could be as shortsighted as those who are saying “We don't want to do it because we don't want to see our numbers artificially — or we don't want to see our numbers or perception of them suddenly grow — and there'd be this perception of danger out there.” Just a couple observations.
Joanne Archambault: So, I have a little bit different task here, which I think is going to be pretty challenged, but I think everybody here is pretty sophisticated, so, let me just say that I find it interesting when I hear about the advocates and the advocates and the advocates because I represent criminal justice. I spent almost 23 years with the San Diego Police Department, the last 10 years supervising the sex crimes unit, and I have trained in 46 of our 50 states, numerous — I think eight other countries and U.S. territories — and I actually get three to five emails and phone calls a week about this issue. And it's not just from the advocates but from law enforcement, so that's the perspective I'm going to bring here. And I'm just going to hit some points. Number one: The definition in the UCR of forcible sexual assault. The problem is that it says “forcible and against her will.” So those of us that work in this field believe that the cases involving victims who are incapacitated or unconscious as a result of alcohol or drugs are not going to be in there, in addition to those cases where victims cognitive disability is so severe that they are unable to understand the act, be able to consent or not. So in addition to all those other felony sexual assaults out there — sodomy, penetration with a foreign object, oral copulation — those aren't there. But we'll also argue that the — even if you want to argue that “and against her will” would include incapacitations and people with disabilities unable to give consent — the UCR uses “forcible and against her will.” The real email that I get more often, and that I was a little bit surprised — not really though — because San Diego, back when Mark Fazola was doing his investigative series in the 90s, I was fascinated because LAPDs stats were the same as mine in San Diego — six percent unfounded. If you know Southern California, LA and San Diego are very, very different types of cities. But the problem is that even though we've got states using NIBRS and NIBRS has such rich data, the media continues to use the UCR because they want to do comparisons, so I know I get frustrated that I fail to see the media pick up on NIBRS data which is, as the FBI case supervisor was saying, is robust. It reminds me of back — Mark used to want to argue with me after he showed cities' unfounded rates and Baltimore just got nailed because they had three times the national average for unfounded rates. So when reporters got that, they understood that that was significant to go in at look at the way police departments were operating. He next went to arrest rates, arguing that cities with high arrest rates were doing a good job. This is one of the pieces where Kate and Cassia's study worries me a little bit, because to be honest with you, I can go out and I can arrest very, very easily. Probably cause is a very easy burden to establish. And what I have tried to do for decades now is get law enforcement agencies to slow those arrests down so that they can support the investigation and prosecution, because in most of our states, once I make that arrest, I have 48 hours for the prosecutor to files those charges. Here's another really big issue with this study and others, and that is that the FBI says one of the criteria for declining or for exceptional clearances is arresting and charging. Well another interesting thing — LAPD actually operates exactly like San Diego in that our belief is we do not charge suspects. We arrest suspects and prosecutors charge. So we would argue that if I refer a case over — and by the way we also operate the same, very unusual, but we also require a face-to-face interview with the victim and the DA prior to issuing. Now the only other crime I know of where that's done is child abuse, which I get, because with kids DAs are trying to determine whether this child actually has the ability to testify, right? But in sex crimes cases, San Diego, like LA, requires that face-to-face interview. Now, as detectives, we actually call that a credibility interview. We knew as detectives that as we walk down the hallway with our victims, a decision was being oftentimes made based on the way my victim appeared as they were walking down the hallway. So I get a little bit worried because law enforcement can go out there and make arrests all day long. What we really need to see for best practices is when every radio call for service involving a sexual assault case should be documented. A report should be written and unfortunately there are still cities, this city being one of them, Washington, D.C., where officers are still being dispatched and clearing that radio call without writing a report. All reports should be referred for secondary review, preferably with investigations, but obviously in rural departments sometimes they don't have investigators, but they at least have supervisors.
And then being really careful that, I really don't have a problem with an informal mechanism, especially with that 48 hours to send those reports to the DA's office, but they should be counted. They shouldn't be uncounted, and I know in my case, my district attorney didn't really want us sending cases over formally because they didn't want their rejection numbers being higher than they wanted them to be, but my policy was, by California penal code, my detectives don't have the authority to deny charging, okay? That's a prosecutor's decision. So there's a little bit of an argument there as to what actually that exceptional clearance category means.
I can tell you, probably in the country, that it's interpreted very differently. What actually worries me the most are the cases that I see that are being labeled unfounded, and unfounded meaning unsubstantiated. That's actually what we eliminated back in the 70s. We said that there was no need for cooperation. Now we know that when it comes to taking these cases in front of a jury, there's going to have to be some sort of cooperation. It doesn't mean eyewitness testimony; it means cooperation as to who is telling the truth, but we still need to be really careful to track all those different outcomes.
So every piece of paper coming in should be reviewed by somebody and we should be tracking outcomes. So, if the case is sent to the district attorney's office, is it charged, is it rejected? If they charge, do we accept the plea, does it go to trial, what are the results? And that would be obviously a really big beginning, and then of course again if we started having data that was more reliable, this is actually really important because I get calls from people all over the country, friends of mine, one in particular just called me last week. For some reason, police lieutenants seem to have a lot of attrition. I know that I had my fair share in the last 10 years, and this sergeant has had, she's been there less than 10 years and she's had 9 lieutenants.
And what police supervisors do like the media does is they try to look at our clearance rates. For example, when I took over the sex crimes unit, my unit was based on my clearance rate. Well, I'll just give you an example. I'm a crimes against persons detective back in the 80s before we had any domestic violence units, and sat next to a detective who would whatever he had to do to belittle and degrade his victims, his DV victims so that they would decline prosecution because it's an exceptional clearance category, alright?
And not only does he get to clear his case so it looks good if you don't have a sergeant looking to see what he's doing, but guess what, he doesn't even have to do his job. He doesn't even need to write up his investigation because he just made that investigation go away as the VDP. So, being careful to not just say, “well, we've got all these cases where they're being sent over informally. We should go out there and make an arrest.” Well that's my concern, right? Much easier to go out there and make an arrest, get the prosecutor to decline prosecution, and now I get to clear my case exactly the way I could've the whole time.
So I know that one of my jobs up here is to, I just got a little sign here, so I think I'm okay, just again, I'm sorry, I know I'm bouncing all over the place, but be careful about those clearances because I don't know if LAPD is doing it, but I sure remember the days I quickly changed the way my unit was evaluated. I'd much rather evaluate my detectives individually. So, for example, we know the number one complaint with victims is, they're not informed what's happening with their case. We don't even bother to return their phone calls. Making sure to look for problem detectives. I brought some good sex crimes detectives in from vice, believe it or not. Good vice detectives know how to talk to high-risk populations, unlike what you see on TV. But I had this one particular female, all her cases were false allegations. That's probably not a detective that should be working sex crimes. Maybe burglary, maybe auto theft, but not sex crimes.
So not only looking at what's happening to all these cases that are coming in for your entire unit, but I would evaluate my detectives on a quarterly basis, not because I wanted to but because I had to, believe it or not, for very senior detectives. And I would look at their case outcomes, and you could see the stars, and you could see somebody who might've needed some training, and sometimes maybe even with training, those detectives might've needed to be transferred from the unit and go to work someplace else.
The other thing that I'm hoping for out of this UCR, and I've been involved in this discussion about the UCR and the definition for a long time, but I would at least hope that we'd be able to define in the UCR the definition for false or unfounded, baseless. Now we mean that to say that an element's missing, an element of the crime, so the force is missing, maybe it's a statutory rape, a crime based on age, but the force isn't there so the force is unfounded in that it's baseless, versus unfounded false. Very few of those unfounded cases are actually false allegations, and yet the perception by the public is that they are all false.
I was doing a conference in Connecticut at the university just Thursday and Friday and the taxi cab driver that I took said, “What are you going to?” And I said, “I'm training a conference, what kind of sexual assault, how many of those are false.” This is a taxi cab driver. That's the email, that's the phone call that we get every day, all day long. “How many of those are false?” And you know what's really interesting, in all the trainings I do with law enforcement all over the country, nobody argues with me. We just don't have any guidance. I bet you money that if I were to sit down and ask people what their definition of unfounded/baseless is, it's different than mine.
And the other really big thing I just want to say is, I agree that the FBI can do everything right. If I have a room of 1,000 people and I ask them how many have read that uniform crime report? Maybe, one hand. In Connecticut, one hand. It was the chief. It's a management issue. So, the quality assurance, the lack of training, the fact that you have two detectives sitting next to each other, clearing their cases in totally different ways, Cassie's research definitely showed that with LAPD and LASO, same by the way in San Diego. You would see that same type of disparity between the way San Diego sheriffs do their cases and clear their cases. They actually, what they had done, when the media started using clearance rates and looking to see what we were doing, one of our sheriff's department, or I just did it there,
the sheriff's department just basically stopped clearing their cases because they don't have to. If you're going to start looking at what I'm doing, well we'll just leave them all open. And that's that voluntary piece that we were talking about.
So I'll go ahead and I think we wanted Cassia to address the stranger/non-stranger issues?
Spohn: But I think that Section Chief Casey wanted to respond to some of the things that you said.
Casey: Just as far as clearance, whether it's arrest or by exceptional means, in the FBI's UCR program, whether or not a prosecutor authorizes charges or not has no bearing on those being cleared, whether arrest or exceptional means.
So if you have a case, once you feel you have enough information to go to a prosecutor to obtain a charging document, and every jurisdiction is different, every state is different, federal agencies are different. Once you feel you have enough information to request a charging document, what the prosecutor does as far as UCR reporting is irrelevant.
Archambault: So I'm sorry, but Bethany was talking to me. What you're saying is that the way LAPD and San Diego PD was doing it, which is that you take the case to the prosecutor's office, so that issues I talked about with Cassie actually on her paper that says “arrest and charge,” see we would argue that we aren't charging, therefore it's an exceptional clearance, and you're saying that's not the way the FBI sees it?
Casey: Correct. In the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Now, your internal process is how you want to count data for your Compstat or for your reporting purposes. You can do that however you want, but remember Uniform Crime Reporting is looking for uniformity nationwide so we can compare the rape stats, not we, the criminal justice community or the researchers can compare rape data from New York City with Los Angeles, they want to make sure they're comparing apples to apples.
Archambault: So how then do you answer the question of “arrest and charge” if law enforcement's position is that they don't charge?
Casey: You have to have enough information to request an individual be charged.
Tellis: It's a booking procedure.
Casey: So in Los Angeles' discussions with the FBI they've talked about clarifying this. This is how we got there, if you will. Your concerns that you recognize are concerns that we're looking at right now. This is this aspect of, if you make an arrest, you can therefore clear the crime so make the arrest on a probable cause basis. You have an incomplete investigation, sub-standards, it's inferior and therefore the DA rejects it, but what does the detective care? I've cleared the case, that's the standard, that's the mode of which I'm measured. We are concerned about that. My chief of detectives who's within my span of control, that's the first thing he identified.
I would argue back and forth internally. We're just beginning to process this information. We're verifying it. This is these researchers: “We've got this report. We're verifying it. We've got a letter that's somehow attached.” Wow. This only changes the way we do business by 30 plus years, and not just sexual assaults but all crimes.
Maybe we won't just immediately change it, we'll go ahead and explore this a little more, for not only the implications of are we right or wrong with UCR, which we want to be right, not only the state standards but the federal standards, but more or as important is how does this change our culture? How does the change the manner in which we go about investigating crimes and pursuing justice? And this is, of course, the essence of the study. That is what it's saying to us. It's saying, well because you can clear other of these things exceptionally now, your people are not making arrests when they otherwise would.
And the design was important because it got anonymous surveys from 50 of our people, and we said, I don't care who they are. Their identity is never going to be known to me. It's very critical to get unfiltered remarks from our case-carrying detectives. We also worked with the district attorney. Again, their filing detectives to get unfiltered, what's the impact of LAPD not making that arrest and then presenting that case versus making that arrest and bringing a questionable or problematic case to you for filing?
And someone said, “it wouldn't matter. I would've filed it. The final decision is without regard to the arrest.” But more what they wrote down in the summary obviously is the people that said, “you know what, it does matter. If LAPD is not willing to make an arrest, how do you expect me to give a criminal filing, a felony filing?” And so that is influencing us.
As we look across this, we had well over half our people that said, “I don't have anywhere near the training I need for these type of questions. You're asking me to be King Solomon here between allegations between individuals that are known to each other. That I'm just taking a snap shot of the problems that they have in their lives and now you want me to make a determination of whether or not a sexual assault occurred. I'm ill-equipped for this.”
Victimology, criminology, the criminal aspects of interrelationships, we're in the midst of doing a 5-day training right now for the first 30 people, and we're going to have to go at that and refine that over and over and over for the next 6 months to a year, I'm sorry, and beyond to really help our detectives better understand, what does a problem victim look like, and that they're not a problem victim. The problem is the sexual assault.
Archambault: Chief, if I could go ahead and interrupt because I know NIJ, I was given very strict instructions to make sure we gave time for questions from the audience. Now you guys will sit there and not have any.
Audience Member 1: [inaudible.]
Casey: And if you're in California, we are working with our POST, which is our Police Officers in Standards and Trainings state agency to get a statewide training on the basis of some of the information that was from this study as well as just what we know the perils of our investigations are. And it's a 40-hour course and we would love and support any agency in here who wants to contact us, we'll send you what the curriculum was, we'll tell you it's a work in progress, we're not quite there because we're evolving a standard with LA that says, we looked at the sheriff's department, they arrested nearly three times what we do, without a big deterioration in filing.
Now, there's some question about the underlying data, about whether or not they're stranger versus non-stranger ratios are the same as ours, but nonetheless, the most important thing is what the surveys told me is that I still have people out there that are going to let the district attorney's office determine whether an arrest occurs or not, and for us we want to change that, even if the rest of the study is not always that significant, say is not that meaningful to change, we want to change that.
Archambault: Well wait, I think there might be some confusion.
Casey: The FBI also provides training. We also have an audit unit. It's under me, it's voluntary, unlike your audits or [inaudible] which are mandatory by law, quality assurance audits for UCR are voluntary so any unit can request that we audit their process to see if they're classifying crimes [inaudible.]
Archambault: And that was my point because I think you might've been talking about sexual assault training versus UCR training. Right.
Casey: A prime example is late reporting. It's identified and then oftentimes an arrest is delayed because we have what we need to do, as Joann indicated, the investigations involving people known to each other are complex and immediately going out and making an arrest is not necessarily the best thing to do for successful prosecution. And when you ask inquiry detectives, “Why aren't you making an arrest?” “I need to do things like a pretext call, etc.” You get beyond the pretext call, the etc. part is always what I'm worrying about, because once you do the pretext call, in the absence of prior conduct by the suspect and so forth, there's not a lot more ground to do. You're either going to make the arrest or you're not. But training in that regard is important to us.
Casey: Well, we are trained though. I think in law enforcement, this issue of someone higher up making the determination on an arrest. We don't do that for a burglary. We don't do that for a robbery. But we'll do that for a rape.
Audience Member 2: [inaudible.]
Archambault: It is, isn't it? At that's what I thought was so interesting about San Diego and then find out LA's policy about that DA victim interview, and it was not like any other victim other than children, which as an old child detective, I get.
I think it does come down to that. I mean, we know that these cases are taken based on our perception of the victim's credibility. We know Cassie's done a lot with her research on that downstream orientation. We know that officers don't take reports because nothing happens, and we know the detectives sometimes don't do the investigations because nothing happens.
And so, and Violence Against Women International, which I founded and which I'm the executive director of, it's actually been a dream of mine for decades and decades. And that is, if we could get all the different professionals who respond, whether it be the beat cop or the emergency room nurse or the doc or the teacher at the school, if we could get each of those people to respond appropriately, compassionately to the victims and just to start by believing. Because, in my job, I'm over 31 years into this, and I used to hear a lot that victims didn't come to us because they were afraid of us because we were just the bad guys too cynical, too jaded. You know what? All these years later we now know that victims are most afraid of those closest to them, the people they love that they go to and that those people don't necessarily know how to respond to them either, there's a lot of silence. And of course law enforcement has that power to give to them or not to give somebody help, so it's a little bit, not a little bit, it's a lot more, it has a stronger impact just like emergency room personnel, but I encourage you to go it's
www.startbybelieving.org and each person can make a commitment, whoever they are, whatever their discipline is, to start by believing.
Spohn: I just wanted to respond to that as well. Kate referred to the comment that we kept hearing over and over in our interviews with the detectives about “righteous” victims and “righteous” cases and I think this is emblematic of just exactly what you're talking about, that certain kinds of victims are deemed not deserving of protection under the law, they're not regarded as genuine victims. In LA, both the police department and the sheriff's department, they used this term “righteous” victim over and over and over again.
Casey: Let me clarify. The “righteous” victim we talked about, again when you talk about people on the ground in an organization and then up through the leadership, then you have values. If there is such a thing, to the occasion that a detective or somebody else in a Compstat setting would say “this is a righteous victim” would cause me to cringe just sitting here to the point that I've got to say that as an organizational culture, it's not something that we accept from our people to say that, “Gosh, this is a righteous victim. I need to get some resources in here.” That's not how we describe, a victim of sexual assault is a victim of sexual assault, whether it has a case challenges that was on part the actions of the victim as to the manner in which she delayed reporting or the manner in which she can't recall a sexual assault, the absence of, or what her behavior was, we're not blaming the victim.
Now, having said that, one of the important things of our training, and the elephant in the room, is to talk about, in reality when you work these cases day in and day out and you see the victim being revictimized, not only when it's DV or otherwise, but also because the criminal justice system, they don't get traction within it, and that's whether it's the interaction with the first responder, the detective, with the DA, or in trial, that the detective can become quite disenfranchised because now they see this play over and over and over and it wears on them.
And so one of the things, one of the important aspects of our training was and is to bring in people to talk about with our people the fact of them being restored and them taking care of themselves so their cynicism and these psychological responses which are absolutely natural for an untrained worker, that they don't become jaded. And it's like, I'll say I've used this phrase. It's like a windshield on a car. We all buy a car, it's a brand new windshield. But 10,000 miles on, it gets pitted because of the environment it's in. And our people in law enforcement can be the same way in law enforcement, and as researchers, as you're interviewing them and you see the result of 30 years of experience, well that's not always good. Thirty years of experience, I have that as well, can be a lot of different things. And some of it's not all good, and so to that end, one of the most important aspects of training, in my mind, is how are we keeping our people healthy, keeping them focused on serving the needs of this victim and pursuing justice.
Audience Member 3: [Inaudible.]
Backes: Well thank you. Unfortunately we're at the end of our time. I was hoping we could have more of a discussion, but feel free to follow up with our panelists, and I'd like to give them one more round of applause.