St. Louis police should put more detectives on sex crimes, work more closely with hospitals and counselors, and better prepare officers to handle rape cases, a task force appointed by Mayor Francis Slay reported yesterday, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The mayor asked advocates of crime victims to examine the police department’s treatment of sex cases after a Post-Dispatch investigation highlighted a pattern of problems. The newspaper disclosed that the police had for years kept many rape cases off their books by detailing them in informal memos, which they periodically shredded.
The stories also reported that the department often failed to analyze rape kits and that some women who reported rapes were given waivers to sign that released police from investigating and counting the complaints as crimes. After an internal audit, the department acknowledged that it had historically misclassified some rapes as other crimes that were not reported to the FBI for publication in crime statistics. In about 1,000 words posted on Slay’s Web site, mayorslay.com, the task force urged the police to seek feedback from victims to see if they were satisfied with their treatment; allow a committee to review sex cases every quarter; assign all sex crimes to specialists instead of letting district detectives handle some cases; and hire a victims’ advocate and an additional lab worker to analyze evidence from sex cases.