Rape Case Audit Faults APD
Shows fewer than one-third were cleared in accordance with federal guidelines
Of the Austin Police Department's "exceptionally cleared" rape cases audited by the Texas Department of Public Safety last month, fewer than one-third were correctly cleared in accordance with federal guidelines. So says a letter from DPS's Incident-Based Reporting Bureau audit team, which noted that another third of reviewed offenses did not meet criteria for exceptional clearance – when officers have probable cause, but for a legitimate reason do not make an arrest.
The DPS letter is dated Dec. 13, but APD Chief Brian Manley didn't provide an update until Monday, Dec. 31. He reiterated that APD reached out to DPS (after the department made national headlines for its use of exceptional clearance) to review its cases. The goal, Manley said, was "to verify how we are closing cases and, if we were not doing it appropriately," to better understand how to make the "necessary changes."
Of the 95 cases in January, November, and December 2017 that were reviewed by DPS, only 29 were correctly cleared, and 30 did not meet federal criteria. The DPS team identified 15 cases that shouldn't have been classified as rape according to the federal definition, which Manley said "may indicate a potential over-reporting of rape"; once APD receives the final report from DPS, it will look at those cases again.
Another 14 cases in the audit were "unfounded," which Manley said are likely cases in which the survivor has recanted. The chief noted, however, that due to the difficulty of coming forward, "the recant may not be an actual recant," meaning the victim may be telling the truth regardless. Lastly, six cases indicate APD didn't follow federal rules for reporting, two cases could have been cleared years before 2017, and one incident "labeled as Internal Affairs" was never reviewed.
While Manley insisted that without the full report, the department can't "put a lot of context around these numbers right now," DPS has already agreed to help APD retrain its 296 detectives in accordance to federal guidelines over the next few weeks. Afterward, the department will conduct an internal review of all cases exceptionally cleared last year to make sure its 2018 annual report is correct and consistent with guidelines.