DPS audit: Almost 1/3 of cleared rape cases classified incorrectly

Brian Manley

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Of the 95 sexual assault cases that were closed but not solved over three months in 2017, 30 should not have been, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety audit of the Austin Police Department. 

“We want to make sure that we’re doing is right. It’s more important to get it right than it to claim that you are right,” said APD Chief Brian Manley at a Monday press conference. “So bringing in an outside agency allows us to have a different set of eyes.”

DPS reviewed 95 rape cases from last year. According to the investigators, APD cleared 30 rape cases when they did not meet the national necessary criteria. Fifteen of those 95 were classified as rape when they did not meet those same national standards.

“What we want to be is first of all transparent. That’s why we’re here today talking about what’s really a preliminary report that I can’t give a lot of context to,” Manley said.

DPS will give the department details of the audit in the coming days. Chief Manley says they’ll begin working to improve right away. DPS will retrain all of APD’s 296 detectives to make sure they’re following guidelines and properly labeling cases.

“Every case is going to be reviewed,” Manley said.

During the administrative review, DPS took a closer look into how Austin Police manage incidents and whether the data submitted to the state complies with the FBI’s crime reporting guidelines. They reviewed case files for three months of cases in 2017: January, November and December.

Under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, a case can be exceptionally cleared if it meets certain criteria:

  • Has the investigation definitely established the identity of the offender?
  • Is there enough information to support an arrest, charge, and turning over to the court for prosecution?
  • Is the exact location of the offender known so that the subject could be taken into custody now?
  • Is there some reason outside law enforcement control that precludes arresting, charging, and prosecuting the offender?

Manley said at the beginning of December that Austin police exceptionally clear cases for four reasons:

  • The suspect died.
  • The suspect is being charged in another jurisdiction.
  • The District Attorney’s Office doesn’t believe there’s enough of a case to move forward with prosecution
  • The victim isn’t cooperating.

APD will receive the full audit in a week and a half.

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