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Minneapolis’s high rape statistics are misleading

Minneapolis’s high rape statistics are misleading

Many people in Minneapolis are likely aware that the number of rapes reported within the city are much higher than any other city in the country. What they may not know, however, is that the Minneapolis Police Department has been reporting far more crimes than just rapes to the FBI. For at least the past eight years, the Minneapolis Police Department has been operating under a much broader definition of rape than what has been requested by the FBI for its statistical comparisons.

This has led, unsurprisingly, to Minneapolis being ranked first in the nation for the number of forcible rapes in the country for the past five years. Not only does this draw unfair and misplaced criticism, but it also means the police department has received more money to combat rape than it would have if it had accurately reported. Since 2009, the city has been awarded $6.5 million in federal grants.

According to the officer in charge of the Minneapolis Police Department’s sex crimes unit, she was more concerned with reporting all acts of sexual violence than just what the FBI was interested in. Now that the misreporting has been made public, however, her department will be updating the numbers with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Over the past five years, there has been considerable effort to crack down on rape and sexual violence, but that eagerness may have led to sloppy policing. If police and prosecutors are pressured to convict people of sexual assault in an effort to show that Minneapolis is improving, they may be willing to violate defendants’ rights or use otherwise suspicious methods of investigation. Now that it is clear that Minneapolis has been overreporting the number of rapes, there may be less of an incentive to prosecute as many individuals.

Source:┬áStar Tribune, “Minneapolis police overreporting rape statistics,” Brandon Stahl and Alejandra Matos, March 11, 2013

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