Did the chief of the Dallas Police Department really blame victims for date rape in a City Council committee meeting?
The department hit back Tuesday night at "various web sites and blogs" that are criticizing his remarks about the city's major spike in sexual assaults.
"I just think it's irresponsible for bloggers to put inaccurate information in reports to excite or to create this uproar that is not consistent with my statement," Chief David Brown said in a statement. "They're being irresponsible. This is a very sensitive issue, and we really do want to make victims aware of how to protect themselves from these predators."
When questioned at a Public Safety Committee meeting Monday about the city's astonishing rise in sexual assaults this year, Brown said the increase is not because more of the assaults are being reported than before.
"We're finding that these are people that you may go out on a date with and have a little bit too much to drink; you don't know them that well, and it ends in a sexual assault," he said. "So we're needing to do quite a bit of awareness, education campaign, to that victims group that's causing this spike."
He had earlier said that police needed to "create a message to victims of these types of crimes, on a prevention kind of component, related to first dates, second dates, someone you don't know that well, but you're at a club, you have a little too much to drink -- having friends or someone help watch you or maybe have someone that doesn't drink in the group."
His remarks raised the ire of Andrea Grimes at the Dallas Observer, who live-blogged the meeting:
And I am like, holy cow, can we get back to the one-quarter increase in rape? But Ms. Jasso read my mind, asking the Chief to explain the 25.3 percent increase in rapes -- is it that victims are reporting rapes more frequently, or that more rapes are happening? The answer, unfortunately: More rapes, says Chief Brown, specifically date rapes. And we all know what the solution to date rape is: getting women to stop drinking, because that is what causes date rape. Not dudes raping women, but women drinking.
The solution to date rape is not to address women only by telling them not to drink so much, any more than it is to tell homeowners not to have nice stuff, stores to not take cash, or people to quit getting in the way of bullets is a plan to avert burglaries, armed robberies and murder. And that's what's disappointing about what happened yesterday. It's OK to say, "You know, we're studying this, and I'll have a more concrete answer and plan for what to do about it next time." But to haphazardly assert that the onus is on women to avoid rape only perpetuates the idea that women ask to be raped by their actions or their dress.
As of July 28, sexual assaults have spiked in Dallas by an astonishing 25.3 percent year-to-date, Brown told the Public Safety Committee. But other types of violent crime -- homicide, robbery and aggravated assault -- have fallen compared to last year.
Brown told the committee that the number of sexual assaults has been "significantly higher" all year long. According to his preliminary analysis, the increase is because of date rape, "primarily where alcohol was involved," and "a little bit" because of known offenders, Brown said.
But he took issue with how his remarks were framed in blog reports.
"I absolutely did not state that the victims are to blame for sexual assault," Brown said in his statement Tuesday night. "I was explaining that a preliminary DPD analysis of the increase shows that many of the cases involve alcohol and date rape. I do want to continue to emphasize that women be aware of their surroundings and, when possible, travel in pairs or in a group to enhance security around sexual assault."