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Seattle Police Have Stopped Investigating Sexual Assaults Against Adults

Seattle, WA – The Seattle Police Department (SPD) is so understaffed that not a single detective was assigned to investigate a single case of sex assault against an adult in March.

There are only four SPD detectives that investigate sexual assault and child abuse cases in Seattle right now, KUOW reported.

Crimes against children are considered the highest priority and the law requires that they be investigated, so sex crimes against adults have been put on the back burner.

Police sources told KUOW that the detectives spend nearly all their time investigating crimes against children.

“Our child cases are increasing due to the fact that children are coming back to school from Covid,” a Seattle police employee said. “There’s more reporting, and we are seeing an aggressive level of child abuse than we have seen previously.”

As a result, some adults calling 911 to report sexual assaults are routed to an automated telephone reporting unit, KUOW reported.

The automated phone system was created to handle police reports on non-urgent crimes such as stolen checks.

So far this year, only 1.6 percent of cases that were investigated by the sexual assault and child abuse unit resulted in an arrest, KOUW reported.

That’s down from 14 percent of cases investigated leading to apprehensions in 2019.

Not a single adult sexual assault case was assigned to a detective in March, KUOW reported.

Two Seattle police employees said that detectives are rarely, if ever, assigned to adult cases now.

“The Seattle Police Department sexual assault unit is not at all investigating adult sexual assault reports or cases unless there was an arrest,” according to a source inside the department.

King County Sexual Assault Resource Center CEO Mary Ellen Stone said her group published a report that found 408 sexual assault victims who had been waiting on average 563 days for disposition in the King County Superior Court, KUOW reported.

The backlog problem for sexual assault cases is not new.

The King County Auditor’s Office found in a 2020 report that King County Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office didn’t always interview sexual assault victims in the recommended time frame, KUOW reported.

Sheriff’s deputies also sometimes failed to provide victims with advocacy information, according to the report.

“We want to look at this not as ‘Oh, my goodness this all of a sudden happened,’” Stone said. “But this has been the state for some time, and now it’s worse.”

King County Sexual Assault Resource Center legal advocate Jordan Walker said the failure to respond to sexual assault victims will have a long-term impact of fewer people filing police reports in the future, KUOW reported.

“When the front door into a criminal case, into someone hearing your story, someone looking into your story, when that door is locked, and you can’t even get in, the whole system can feel disenfranchised,” Walker explained.

Seattle’s police force shrank from 1,281 in 2019 to 958 in December of 2021, KUOW reported.

Greg Doss, fiscal and policy analyst with the City of Seattle, said the problem is deeper than what the numbers showed.

Doss said that a large number of officers are out on extended leave, a problem that has been ongoing since 2020, KUOW reported.

Police sources said that 16 percent of the city’s police force was out on leave.

The insiders blamed the lack of resources dedicated to investigating sex assaults against adult victims on the city’s new mayor.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell campaigned on a platform to clean up “visible crime” in the city, KUOW reported.

Since Harrell took office, many of the city’s limited police resources have shifted to crime “hot spots” and homeless tent encampments, according to police sources.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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