New Group Calls on MPD to Improve Response to Sex Crimes


People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws (PERL) issued a statement on Friday morning calling on Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland "to keep sexual violence in mind as he seeks more [Memphis Police] officers."

The new Mid-South Peace & Justice Center group, which will hold a press conference about the matter on Friday afternoon, is encouraging Strickland to keep the following concerns in mind as his administration looks to beef up the Memphis Police Department (MPD), following a shortage of about 400 officers.

* Data and analytics - The city uses data-driven hotspot policing through its Blue CRUSH model, and PERL wants the MPD to begin keeping a database of sex crimes that they say could help prevent future rapes in areas where they occur most frequently.

* Public notification - PERL wants the MPD to provide to the public statistical and geographic data regarding sex crimes, much like the department does with robberies and homicides.

* Allocation of new police officers - As the city enacts its Police Service Technician (PST) program, through which civilian workers will be trained to deal with minor accidents and traffic issues, PERL wants the MPD to move some of the more highly trained officers the PST program will free up to the Sex Crimes Unit.

* New police director - PERL is also calling on Strickland to consider "a candidate who has a track record of improving transparency and sexual violence responses" in his search for a new police director.

The city's Sexual Assault Kit Task Force has been working on testing a backlog of more than 12,000 untested rape kits that were discovered in 2013.


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