Boston police made arrests in slightly more than half of the 263 rapes and attempted rapes reported last year, putting the department ahead of police across the country, the Boston Globe reports. The FBI estimates that 44 percent of rape cases were cleared by arrests nationwide in 2003. Still, Boston’s clearance rate for rapes and attempted rapes has declined every year since 2000, when 60 percent of cases were solved; the number dropped to 51 percent last year.
Boston’s relative success at making arrests in sexual assault cases may be bolstered in the coming years by a fast-growing statewide DNA databank and by new policies emphasizing information sharing and public notification when rapes occur. Since last November, anyone arrested for a felony in Massachusetts has been required to submit a DNA sample, giving investigators more information to try to match to evidence found at the scene of a sexual assault. That tool is especially important in rapes by strangers, which victims’ advocates say make up many unsolved cases. The Boston police sexual assault unit will notify police district captains across the city when someone is sexually assaulted by a stranger. Formerly, sexual assault investigators did not routinely notify anyone outside their unit and typically only warned the public when they believed a serial rapist was at large.