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Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier is no fan of today’s Human Rights Watch report, which accuses her department of downplaying sex crime statistics and mistreating victims. (Here are some of the most serious allegations.) Not only is the group discouraging future victims from reporting sex crimes, Lanier says in a new statement, they can’t even get their numbers right.
“First, their allegation that 170 cases went unreported is based on a flawed methodology of comparing the number of medical exams to the number of PD 251s (Offense/Incident Reports), despite detailed explanations both verbally and in writing provided by MPD documenting the contrary,” she writes.
Lanier claims that she’s not the only person who’s taken an issue with this way of figuring out if sex crimes are being under-investigated. Even the group’s founder, according to the police chief, thinks that they’re in the wrong:
MPD’s critique of their methodology is not unique to MPD and is well documented; in fact even the founder of HRW publicly criticized HRW for these same issues [Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2009].
Reading Lanier’s statement, you might think that the article she references is about sex crime investigations. But that’s not the case. Instead, in the op-ed Lanier cites, Human Rights Watch founder Robert L. Bernstein argues that his organization is too hard on the Israeli military—-a claim that might be true, but doesn’t seem to have much to do with how sexual assault treatment in hospitals relates to police incident reports. So what do Lanier’s criticism of Human Rights Watch and Bernstein’s have in common, despite seemingly addressing totally different issues?
“It’s about the methodology that they use to do their reports, not about sex crimes,” says Gwendolyn Crump, a department spokeswoman. Crump declined to elaborate on how Bernstein’s article about Israel could be relevant to MPD’s Sexual Assault Unit.
“I’ve given you my answer, but I’m not going to get into what they’re talking about years ago,” she says.
Meanwhile, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells has promised to schedule a hearing on the issue.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.