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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Increase in Reported Tenderloin Sexual Assaults Probably a Good Thing, Says SFPD

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 5:49 PM

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At last night's sparsely attended special Police Commission Meeting, held under the excessively bright lights of the Tenderloin Elementary School cafeteria, Commanding Officer Captain Gary Jimenez had a lot of positive things to report about the Tenderloin Station.

Impressively, all four homicides that occurred in the Tenderloin in 2008 were solved, and many types of crimes were reported less frequently. Jimenez chalked that up to police officers building trust within the community, which, in turn, allows residents to feel comfortable coming forward as witnesses. Disturbingly, that same idea of community trust was then used to justify an increase in reported sexual assaults. Up from 30 in 2007, 44 sexual assaults were reported in the Tenderloin last year.

Given the relatively small numbers, that's not a hugely significant jump. But Jimenez assigned it significance, anyway. Without any statistics or studies backing him up, he said he believed the victims simply felt more comfortable reporting the assaults. By that convenient logic, the more sexual assaults reported, the better job the SFPD is doing.

If Jimenez is correct -- that a jump in the number of sexual assaults is simply the mark of newfound comfort with the San Francisco Police Department -- then shouldn't the number of reported rapes have correspondingly increased? Well ... it didn't. There were 13 in both 2007 and 2008. And that doesn't make us comfortable at all.

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Ashley Harrell

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