Police Sexual Misconduct Called Common but Not Carefully Tracked


Stories of cops propositioning, harassing, and sexually assaulting women turn up every week says The American Prospect. “Police sexual misconduct is common, and anyone who maintains it isn't doesn't get it,” says retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, author of the book Breaking Rank. Former police officer Tim Maher, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, asked 20 police chiefs in 2008 whether police sexual misconduct was a problem; 18 said yes. The 13 willing to offer estimates thought an average of 19 percent of cops were involved; that translates to 150,000 officers nationwide. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women funded the International Association of Chiefs of Police to develop a guide for police chiefs, issued in 2011, that encourages policies to prevent police sexual misconduct. No one keeps data on the number of victims, and the IACP can't track the number of departments that have adopted its recommendations. “We think there's a good-faith effort by police departments out there to be more accountable,” says the IACP's John Firman. Victims fear retaliation. “Women are terrified and won't come forward,” says Diane Wetendorf, an author and advocate who has worked with victims. States need to communicate with each other about cops who have been fired or allowed to quit for sexual misconduct. That's not happening now–only 34 states contribute to the National Decertification Index, implemented in 2000. “It's just nuts that we haven't come together as a society on this,” says Prof. Roger Goldman of Saint Louis University School of Law, who's an expert on police-licensing laws.

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