The science of stopping sex crimes

In the quest to catch violent perps, rape kits can be a key ally – but only if they're tested

He thought he had taken the only evidence that could connect him to the crime, but he was wrong. When she went to the hospital, the victim told a specially trained nurse that her assailant had used her cell phone.

The nurse swabbed the phone and obtained a sample of the perpetrator's DNA. It was tested and a match was found in the convicted offender database. He was charged with the crime.

Dunlap, the former police lieutenant who, as a consultant, is working to establish national standards for police training in dealing with sex crimes, says law enforcement needs enough personnel and time to investigate cold cases and complex rape investigations.

Nancy Dunlap, a former Minneapolis police lieutenant who supervised the sex crimes unit, says testing of DNA samples in rape cases is essential
Sean Smuda
Nancy Dunlap, a former Minneapolis police lieutenant who supervised the sex crimes unit, says testing of DNA samples in rape cases is essential

As it stands now, she says, if a police officer is assigned a cold case on one day and the next day "a high-profile case comes in, the cold case sits."

Dunlap also would like to see more victim advocates from the Somali, Hmong, Latino, and Native American communities who understand the cultural context of the way women react to rape — and can help persuade them to report the crime.

"You'll never know if you have a serial rapist in your neighborhood," she says, "if nobody reports it and nobody has an exam."

Ultimately, Dunlap says, she'd like to see the county attorney or the state legislature mandate that all rape kits are tested. She views the aggressive pursuit of rapists as a way to halt myriad other crimes.

Dunlap says she told police officers who worked for her in the sex crimes unit that "these guys weren't just raping women or children. They were committing robberies, domestic assaults, narcotics violations.

"These guys, they're the bane of your existence out there and if we can put together a good rape case, they're going to go away for big time," she told the officers, who suddenly looked at the issue with fresh eyes. "They got it."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
 
Loading...