Press conference today at 9:15 AM at 125 N. Main St.
Memphis, Tennessee — May 31, 2017 — The Memphis-based advocacy group People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws (PERL) calls on Mayor Strickland to improve rape policing and remove himself from the problematic Memphis Says NO MORE campaign.
PERL has been meeting with Mayor Strickland every six months since April 2016. We have been negotiating the following demands, which have not been met.
Public release of sex crimes data
The Memphis Police Department operates an online crime tracking service called Cyber Watch. The database, accessible through MPD’s website, allows users to input a date range and a location and search for reported crimes. The website provides a list of searchable crimes, which the user is prompted to check off. However, MPD removed sex crimes, making them unsearchable.
As such, we call on the mayor to restore sex crimes to Cyber Watch by December 31, 2017. The searchable data should include all reported incidents that meet the Tennessee statutory definition of rape. This includes incidents that MPD classifies as “forcible rape,” “aggravated forcible rape,” “forcible sodomy,” “aggravated forcible sodomy,” and “sexual assault with an object.” Attempts to commit these crimes should also be included.
Number of Sex Crimes detectives
The Memphis Police Department employs 30 sex crimes detectives. However, ten detectives work child cases, ten work cold cases associated with untested rape kits, and the remaining ten handle all current adult sex crimes. The ten detectives who handle all adult sex crimes also have to work misdemeanors. This depletes the amount of time they can spend investigating rapes. As a result, serious cases are not given the attention they require.
As this administration continues to call for more police officers to contend with Memphis’ violent crime, their silence on the need for more resources for sex crimes investigators has be deafening. PERL continues to demand from this administration adequate staffing for MPD’s Sex Crimes Unit .
Memphis Says NO MORE
This campaign tells the public to report rape Memphis Police Department’s non-emergency hotline, 901-545-COPS.
We feel that this is an inappropriate message for the Mayor to endorse.
At our meeting last October, Mayor Strickland, Memphis Police Director, Michael Rallings, and Deputy Chief Mike Ryall agreed that the campaign materials should be corrected to read, “To report rape, call 9-1-1.” Yet, the campaign persists to spread this misinformation through printed materials and on its website, www.memphissaysnomore.com.
Because Memphis Says NO MORE is coordinated by the Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce, the Memphis Area Women’s Council, and the Mayor’s office, we recognize that Mayor Strickland does not have sole discretion over the contents of the campaign. As such, we ask that Mayor Strickland remove himself from the campaign and issue a public correction that rape should be reported to 9-1-1. This correction should be included in the Sexual Assault Kit Taskforce update for June 2017. This update should be recorded during the City Council Public Safety Committee and posted on the city’s website.
Please visit www.enforcerapelaws.org for more information.
People for the Enforcement of Rape Laws is a Memphis-based nonprofit organization that monitors law enforcement responses to sexual violence and organizes for criminal justice reform.