Small Sample Size, but Really?!

by Rachel Baker on November 18, 2014

I have nothing to say about this, except…seriously?! This can’t be true, can it?

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What Cops Are Really Thinking When a Woman Claims She Was Raped.

Fewer than half of rapes committed in the U.S. are reported to the police, and the vast majority of reported rapes never lead to arrests. What are these cops thinking? For a study published this month in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Dr. Rachel Venema, a social work professor at Calvin College, interviewed 10 cops working in the police department of a midsized Midwestern city about their experiences responding to reports of sexual assault. Seven of the police officers were male, six of them were white, and their ranks ranged from patrol officer to detective to sergeant. It’s a very small sample, but it provides a fascinating peek into how one police department deals with rape reports in the face of limited departmental resources, and the officers’ own assumptions about who constitutes a “real” victim.

One officer told Venema that when a rape report is called in, they’ve “got to decide as a department how much resources we want to put into this.” In other words, that cop continues, “What’s the chances of this one being true, you know?” One officer told Venema that “definitely over a third, probably approaching … 40 or 45 percent” of sexual assault reports the officer fielded were either “outright recanted by the victim” or else raised “serious questions of the veracity” of the report. That’s probably an overstatement: The officers also told Venema that they were more likely to remember rape reports they deemed false than ones they believed checked out.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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