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Police Investigation (From Rape Crisis Intervention Handbook, P 69-78, 1980, by Sharon L McCombie - See NCJ-69620)

NCJ Number
P J Murphy
Date Published
10 pages
The dual role of the police officer in a rape case in protecting and supporting the victim and in apprehending and successfully aiding the prosecution of the culprit is described.
Initially described are the proper response of three different police groups to the initial rape call: the police clerk, the patrol unit, and the detective unit. The role of the clerk, generally the first person to whom a rape victim speaks, is described as one who secures all necessary information and tries to keep the victim on the telephone until the patrol unit arrives. The challenging and sensitive task faced by the patrol officer and the detective unit in interviewing a rape victim is emphasized. It is also recommended that rape investigators be officers with the knowledge and experience to deal with their feelings properly to avoid lessening their effectiveness with rape victims. The investigating detective should contact the rape victim as soon as possible, but delay the indepth interview until the victim is able to fully cooperate and provide a detailed account of what happened. The following elements in the police investigation are detailed: (1) the search for physical evidence at the scene of the crime, (2) the indepth police interview of the victim, (3) the importance of obtaining a detailed description of the culprit's method of operation to aid in the police search of the suspect, (4) the maintenance of continuous contact and psychological support for the rape victim by the investigating detective to help the victim to be an effective witness, and (5) the importance of all physical evidence indicating the use or threat of force and the infliction of physical injury. Other important factors are decreasing the usually long delay between the suspect's arrest and the trial to minimize the emotional ordeal to which the victim is subjected, and establishing close cooperation with hospital personnel to facilitate rape investigations. Three references are provided. For related articles, see NCJ 69622-23.