Target: Norfolk Police Chief Mike Goldsmith
Goal: Applaud Police Chief Goldsmith for changing official policy that assumed that all rape claims were unfounded
Until recently, the police department in Norfolk, Virginia classified all sexual assault claims as false or invalid by default. A 22-year-old woman’s rape claim propelled police chief Goldsmith to reformulate the policy so that police officers must side with the victim and consider all rape claims valid and true. Immediately after her attack, the victim reported the incident to the police only to be told that if she was lying that she would be charged with a felony.
Before the woman even received a medical examination, she was subjected to harsh interrogations during which the police officers constantly attacked the veracity her claims. Ultimately, the police officers arrested and charged the attacker for other felonies and sexual assaults, prompting Goldsmith to apologize for how the officers treated the victim. Such heinous treatment of potential rape victims is abhorrent, and the police chief’s response should be admirable for standing up for rape victims and encouraging women who endure sexual assault to speak out.
Because Goldsmith updated the policy for how officers handle sexual assault cases, police officers in the department will now undergo training for handling those with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as rape trauma. The unwarranted disbelief of sexual assault cases often always results in the aggressors remaining free, and they go unpunished. It fosters a distrust of the victims in the justice system. Furthermore, such classification of sexual assaults results in fewer reports of rape because cases rendered invalid do not get included in crime stats. Women should not live in a rape culture where impunity for offenders is rampant.
Norfolk, Virginia is not the only city that has this problem of doubting the veracity of rape claims. The assumption by law enforcement that all rape victims are lying is a disgusting distortion of the number of false rape claims that actually exist. Only two to eight percent of rapes reported to the police are false, and much less than that percentage includes a specific false accusation.
The bleak reality about rape culture in the United States today is that most rapes go unreported, and the underlying assumption that the victims are lying constitutes a large reason why. Police chief Goldsmith’s change to the city policy serves as a small step towards addressing rampant rape in U.S. cities by offering more hope to rape victims that they will receive just treatment by law enforcement. Please sign this petition to applaud the police chief in his efforts to protect women and rape victims.
Dear Police Chief Mike Goldsmith,
We applaud you for updating the city policy for dealing with sexual assault cases. Until recently, Norfolk police officers have assumed that all rape claims were automatically unfounded or invalid. Your reformulation of the policy will force police officers in the department to undergo training for handling rape trauma as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a small step towards addressing a rape culture that protects the aggressor rather than the victim.
The major problem with rape culture today in the United States is that many rapes go unreported. Police officers’ assumption that all rape claims are false distort the actual number of false rape claims: only two to eight percent of rape claims are false. Such gross assumptions lead to a lower number of rape victims to report their crime. We applaud your efforts to rectify this situation and stand up for rape victims. Hopefully, your actions will set a precedent for other police departments to follow.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: CMCarterSS via Flickr