Good news: Dallas Police have come up with a broader way to deal with the 25 percent increase in rapes than telling women to "have your friends watch you" when drinking. All it took was a little outrage!
We hear the blogosphere uproar following the police chief's dismissive remarks on the topic had no small part in the authorities reexamining their assumptions on how to fight rape. The result is a comprehensive plan under the banner of a "Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign," developed in conjunction with local anti-sexual assault advocacy groups.
The plan includes increased police patrolling at closing time and in parking lots of bars and clubs, "thorough and detailed investigative case work to insure the apprehension and incarceration of offenders," preventative training for police officers, closer collaboration with victims' organizations, "personal safety presentations," and public awareness flyers, including the one seen above. (We're fans of the message, if not the font.)
It's clear from that poster and from public comments that complaints about responding to sexual assault by focusing on victim behavior did not fall on deaf ears. At a press conference yesterday, Assistant Police Chief Cynthia Villarreal told The Dallas Observer's Andrea Grimes, "[Victims] need to understand that they are not to blame. Sometimes the victim thinks they did something that made, that 'I caused this.' That's not true."
And City Council member Delia Jasso said, "This is not a victims-only issue." According to The Dallas Morning News, Jasso also said, "Keep in mind, potential predators, that silence does not mean sexual consent. An intoxicated or unconscious person cannot give consent."
But don't expect "watch your drink" to go away entirely. The press release points out that alcohol or drugs were involved in 62 percent of reported offenses — of which, incidentally, 60 percent of them were perpetrated by acquaintances. So there's also this:
Dallas Police Department Outlines Strategies to Combat 25-Percent "Spike" in Sexual Assaults [Dallas Observer]
Jasso on DPD's Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign: "This Is Not a Victims-Only Issue" [Dallas Observer]