By S. Hunter
People think cops hate sex offenders and will do whatever they can to go after them. If charges aren’t pressed it’s because there was a false accusation. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the wake of my own rape, I sought solace in watching TV cop shows about rape. It was easier to delve into fantasy than face the reality of dealing with law enforcement when reporting your own rape. Police are not enabled to deal with rape or rapists. The system is designed to force you to drop the charges and walk away. The main reason for this is money.
From 2006-15, LAPD has collected over 13,000 rape kits. Only 240 rapes have been prosecuted downtown from 2010-2014. In 2009, Human Rights Watch discovered 12, 500 unprocessed rape kits in LA county. Almost 7,000 were from the city. In 2011, LAPD stated they had cleared their entire backlog. There was one big problem. They weren’t acknowledging the development of a new backlog.
What resulted from clearing the old backlog? Over 6,000 rape kits were DNA processed. Where are the resulting prosecutions? Why arenít there prosecutions based on finding serial rapists in the system? Detroit cleared a 1,000-kit backlog and found over 100 serial rapists. Based on those numbers, we should have had 600 in our backlog alone, yet we have only had 240 charges pressed over four subsequent years.
LA is a very rapist friendly place. Not every rape/sexual assault reported is accompanied by a rape kit, but a rape kit must have an original report attached to it somewhere along the line. When I went to the hospital after my rape, I was informed that I would have to report it to police, or pay out all expenses associated with my rape out of pocket. The massive number of reported rapes and resulting rape kits are not being investigated, and the sex offenders aren’t being prosecuted. 115 new rape kits are submitted to the city every month. With no clear funding or timeline in place, a new backlog was guaranteed to happen, and it has. It’s a problem the city and LAPD management continue to deny; they refuse to share current numbers.
Who does the LAPD go after, if not rapists? In 2013, LAPD settled with eleven police officers who claim they were unfairly punished for not meeting ìgoalsî for generating 1.5 traffic citations per day. One and a half citations a day, based on an average citation costing $400 in court and processing fees, is $600. That’s the same as an average officer’s daily pay. Anything past that is pure profit for the city. We pay for officers’ time thru citation writing, which frees up the LAPD yearly budget for other purposes. The real hypocrisy comes from the LAPD upper management who claim that goals are in place to increase safety. If the LAPD was truly concerned about public safety, then what happened to 13,000 reported rapes, and why aren’t they being investigated?
The focus of LAPD upper management is to utilize officers for money generating, not crime stopping. In 2012, LA cited and prosecuted over 33,000 DUIís. According to LAPD billboards, DUIís will cost the driver $20,000. DUI checkpoints also generate car impounds and other income for the city. People try to excuse the lackluster number of rape prosecutions compared to DUI crackdowns as based on the evidence. A positive breathalyzer is the same as the forensic evidence of having a positive rape kit. A positive rape kit means that a rape happened; just like a breathalyzer of over .10 means a driver is drunk. If a positive rape kit meant the state was going to get $10,000 from that offender, I guarantee they’d attest to its reliability during prosecutions and we wouldnít have a single kit backlog.
According to AB-1517, law enforcement “should” process rape kit DNA within 30 days of collecting. The problem is the law doesnít require law enforcement to process all kits. As long as they inform the victim they have no intention of processing the kit, they donít have to.
CA is more interested in pursuing crimes that are profitable to prosecute than those that are devastating to a victim, especially in LA. If the LAPD has a financial boom from citations why havenít they used that money to process rape kits? The Department of Justice is offering millions of dollars to audit unprocessed kits as well as get them processed. Why hasnít LA applied for these grants? The mayorís office had no problems applying and accepting $400 million in grant money to reconstruct one bridge. The law states that law enforcement should process rape kits, but they arenít. The LAPD makes a clear decision every day to ignore a growing number of rape kits, but they have no problems creating a Facebook and Twitter account for a Lamborghini that was donated to them. Hock the car and process the kits, or admit the priorities of the upper management are skewed towards arrests and prosecutions that make them money.
By S. Hunter