Research from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) claims that, over a nine-year period, police officers in the U.S. were charged with over 400 rapes.
According to the research, which can be found here, officers in the U.S. were charged with forcible rape 405 times between 2005 and 2013. That’s an average of 45 a year. There were 636 instances of forcible fondling.
Experts say the statistics on sexual assaults by police are almost nonexistent.
“It’s just not available at all,” said Jonathan Blanks, a research associate with the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice. “You can only crowdsource this info.”
BSGU researchers gathered their list by documenting cases of sworn nonfederal law enforcement officers who have been arrested, according to WTVF. However, the federally funded 2016 paper, “Police Integrity Lost: A Study of Law Enforcement Officers Arrested,” claims the problem isn’t limited to sexual assault.
“There are no comprehensive statistics available on problems with police integrity,” the report says, and no government entity collects data on police who are arrested.
It adds, “Police sexual misconduct and cases of police sexual violence are often referred to as hidden offenses, and studies on police sexual misconduct are usually based on small samples or derived from officer surveys that are threatened by a reluctance to reveal these cases.”
Researchers typically rely on published media reports. Numbers gathered by BGSU are the result of Google alerts on 48 search terms entered by researchers.
The reports of police assault are lacking for multiple reasons, but one of the biggest is the victims’ reluctance to report the crime.
“Who do you call when your rapist or offender is a police officer? What a scary situation that must be,” said Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice who served as principal investigator for the police integrity paper and whose research assistants maintain the BGSU database.
Data is lacking for many reasons. The federal government cannot force state law enforcement agencies to contribute the numbers. Even if that were possible, the Justice Department wouldn’t have the resources to oversee and maintain such a database.