The number of rapes and sexual assaults reported to San Luis Obispo police spiked 41 percent in 2018, a trend that the city attributes to higher rates of reporting amid the #MeToo movement.
According to the city's 2018 crime report, rape reports increased from 39 cases in 2017 to 51 cases in 2018.
"It's increasing," SLO Police Chief Deanna Cantrell said at a May 7 City Council meeting. "I hope it's that reporting is increasing and not that we're having more sexual assaults, and I don't believe that's the case. I do believe that women are starting to feel more comfortable reporting more often."
- Photo Courtesy Of Rise SLO
- MORE REPORTS In 2018, San Luis Obispo police saw a 41 percent increase in rape and sexual assault reports over the year prior.
Cantrell said the trend at the police department coincides with an even bigger uptick in sex crimes reported to victim service groups, like RISE SLO, which saw its cases more than double last year over 2017.
New avenues for victims to report their rapes and assaults are helping contribute to the rise in numbers, Cantrell said. Smart phone apps and web services like Seek Then Speak and Victim Link are removing barriers to reporting.
"It's one more way to report," Cantrell said. "They can report right there without leaving the comfort of their own home."
In some of the cases, RISE can leverage the technology to share data with SLOPD—providing the department with information about the incident that the victim has consented to sharing.
"We'll take that as a statistic that we had a sexual assault, but we don't know who the victim is, we may not know anything about that, but it will count as a statistic of knowing something happened in our city," Cantrell said. "I think it's a very good thing because we know that up to 90 percent of sexual assaults that are committed on college campuses, or cities where college campuses exist, go unreported."
In addition to an increase in rapes and sexual assaults, SLO police reported an 8 percent overall uptick in violent crime. Property crime was up 2 percent—but with a 56 percent spike in residential burglaries. ∆