We want our community to be honest with itself. Three out of four sexual assaults go unreported and we want to change that. The Riley County Police Department recently launched a sexual assault awareness campaign called “Your Option. Your Control.” The main purpose of this campaign is to inform the public of the RCPD’s new sexual assault reporting policy.
Less than one half of one percent of sexual assault perpetrators are incarcerated. We believe that something can be done about those numbers in Manhattan and Riley County through Your Option. Your Control. The goals of this campaign are three-fold. First, we want to break down the barriers to reporting. Second, with an increase in the number of reports, the belief is that perpetrators within our community will be identified. Finally, these serial perpetrators will be targeted for enhanced investigation leading to prosecution and incarceration. Ultimately, accomplishing these three goals will reduce the number of sexual assaults in Riley County. The most important goal in regards to this campaign is the first one. Contrary to what the conventional wisdom might suggestion, the RCPD wants to see a significant increase in the number of sexual assault reports.
To encourage more reporting, the RCPD is providing three options for victims of sexual assault. The first option is called a complete investigation, which includes all of the investigative steps necessary to develop a case that can be presented to the Riley County Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The second reporting option is called a partial investigation, because it includes only those investigative steps designated by the victim, to include follow-up with a detective. A partial investigation allows the victim to have control over which steps of an investigation are taken and which are not.
A partial investigation may develop into a complete investigation if the victim chooses. Otherwise, it is not presented to the County Attorney’s Office. The third reporting option is called an information-only report. This includes only the information which the victim or a third-party reporter provides and entails no investigation or further contact unless initiated by the victim. As there is no statute of limitation on rape or sodomy in the state of Kansas, victims may provide additional information when and if they are emotionally or physically ready. It’s the victim’s option.
In addition, at any point during a complete or partial investigation, the victim can end the investigation without pressure or judgement from members of the RCPD. A victim also can report through a third party, such as the RCPD Victim Advocate Coordinator, another advocate, therapist, a family member, or friend. The third party must have the victim’s consent. A complete or partial investigation will require contact with the victim. Finally, anonymous reports can be made to an officer through the non-emergency phone line, or through the Victim Advocate Coordinator. These reports will be filed as information-only reports.
The Justice Department reports the top three reasons people do not report sexual assaults are the victim fearing retaliation, the victim believing police will not do anything, and the victim believing it was a personal matter. We believe the Your Option. Your Control. campaign addresses all three. Victims have control over which investigative steps are taken and which are not, to include police contact of the perpetrator. The RCPD is investing in the training necessary to improve the performance of our detectives with interviewing victims of traumatic events such as sexual assault, and this will assist in developing more prosecutable cases. In addition, we have hired a Victim Advocate Coordinator whose essential job functions include assisting victims of sexual assault.
Finally, with an information only report, victims can still retain the personal nature of a sexual assault while giving voice to the fact that a crime was perpetrated against them and not because of them. We believe that community problems require community solutions.
Through the Your Option. Your Control. campaign, we are working with many community stakeholders to address the very real problem of sexual assault in Manhattan and Riley County. It is our goal for all victims to step forward and tell their story. The RCPD is providing options, and we encourage victims to take control.