APD holds meeting to improve sex crime investigations

Improving APD sex crimes investigations

AUSTIN, Texas -- It's been two days since Austin police reported a woman was sexually assaulted near UT's campus and still no suspect has been named.

Officers say in cases like this, investigations become top priority. It was one of many things addressed an in-depth analysis of APD's sex crimes investigations at the city's Public Safety Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon. The point of the meeting was to see if there are any gaps in APD's Sex Crimes investigations or areas for improvement.

APD's sex crimes unit examined data from the first four months of 2015. In that time frame, 113 sexual assaults were reported.

Currently, 59 of those cases have either been cleared by arrest or by exception, such as unable to prove offense or lack of evidence.

All but one of the remaining 54 cases have been placed on suspension. 12 of them are on suspension because they're awaiting DNA analysis.

The majority of the cases were suspended because the victim no longer wants to be involved with their case.

While police can not give an average time frame from when rape is reported to when it's cleared, they say the process can often be lengthy especially when it comes to submitting evidence which can take two to four weeks to get to the lab and the issues we've seen with the crime lab. This can be frustrating for the victim, causing them to no longer want to be involved in the case.

"They want to see progress in their case," APD Asst. Chief Joe Chacon said. "When they feel like that's not happening or they call and they don't get an immediate call back from a detective they get angry and a lot of times lose interest in the case."

APD suggests to speed up things, more resources and better staffing are needed.

Right now there are 13 investigators working in sex crimes. On average, each detective handles about 16 cases at any given time.

 

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