October 12th, 2012

New Tilley Hat

Minneapolis rape statistics, explained

A few weeks ago, akirlu posted an article WTF, Minneaota?, asking why Minneapolis led the nation in rapes per capita in the United States Cities by crime rate (click on the "Forcible rape" heading twice), based on the 2010 FBI crime stats.

I asked Amy Lavender, the Crime Prevention Specialist for the Mpls 5th Precinct (where I live) about this, and she asked the lieutenant in charge of Sex Crimes for the city. This is Amy's reply, containing Lt. Dunlap's response:

Hi Dave-

I got this reply from Lt. Nancy Dunlap:

Yes, the UCR (FBI-Unified Crime Reporting) definition of rape was very narrow-(see article below). Mpls has been counting all of these circumstances in CAPRS as rape for as long as I can remember-hence our numbers are much higher than agencies that were using the UCR definition. Our CAPRS criteria is based on out state statutes, not the UCR. This should change in the next years as the UCR definition has now been changed to better reflect all types of sexual assault.
definitions of rape, and how they've changed since 2010Collapse )
Because the new definition is more inclusive, reported crimes of rape are likely to increase. This does not mean that rape has increased, but simply that it is more accurately reported. In addition, the UCR program will also collect data based on the historical definition of rape, enabling law enforcement to track consistent trend data until the statistical differences between the old and new definitions are more fully understood.

The new UCR SRS definition of rape does not change Federal or state criminal codes or impact charging and prosecution on the Federal, State or local level, it simply means that rape will be more accurately reported nationwide.

The Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) worked closely with White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal and the Office of the Vice President, as well as multiple DOJ divisions, to modernize the definition. The change was supported by external partners such as the National Sheriffs Association, National Association of Police Organizations, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major City Chiefs, Major County Sheriffs, and the Police Executive Research Forum.

For more information about the Office on Violence Against Women, visit ovw.usdoj.gov. We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

I hope this information helps!


Amy Lavender
Crime Prevention Specialist
5th Precinct

This explains why St. Paul's rape stats were higher in the list than the city's location for other crime stats.

I hope this answers the question posed by my California friend. I would also suggest that updating an 85-year-old definition of a serious crime shows a major commitment by the Obama administration to women's issues and crime prevention.

[ETA: I don't know why the italics work differently under the cut.]