MPD overreporting rape stats

Marion Renault


Minneapolis has reported the highest national rate of forcible rate for the last five years — but that shocking statistic is due to the city’s broader definition of rape and does not necessarily mean the occurance of rape is highest here.

Every year, the Minneapolis Police Department provides the city’s statistics on sexual assault to the FBI for its Uniform Crime Reports; in 2011 alone, the rate of forcible rates was 100 rapes per 100,000 residents for the city of Minneapolis.

According to the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis Police Department has included incest, oral, anal or statutory rape, or rape by coercion — all of which the FBI definition excludes.

Police spokesman Sgt. Steve McCarty told MPR that the city’s broader definition inflates its reported totals by 30 percent.

Nancy Dunlap, head of the city’s sex crime unit said the department wouldn’t go back through the FBI to correct the data.

She said the over-reporting was “a positive story for the city”, and pointed to FBI’s recent change in policy, which requires that all cities report in the way Minneapolis has been.

McCarty said the overreporting more accurately represente the gravity of the issue in Minneapolis.

"We were ahead of the curve when it came to reporting these different types of sexual assault," McCarty said. "We just wanted to be more inclusive in showing what the actual picture was where these other victims of these other sex crimes were not being included."

All cities should be held to same standard when defining forcible rape, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of a Police Executive Research Forum in Washington D.C.

 “The problem is Minneapolis is now being compared to other cities that have not done that, and I don’t think that’s fair to Minneapolis,” Wexler said.

Because of the nature of the crime, even Minneapolis’ statistics are likely inaccurate and undercount the true rate of forcible rate.

According to Donna Dunn, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, only 5-15% of sexual assaults are reported.

“Not being able to count something this destructive in the community is hard for me to wrap my mind around,” she told the Star Tribune. “If this was a strain of flu, we’d have figured out a way to count it.”