Monday, May 15, 2017

Rape: Part III

Back to Rape: Part II

William Thompson, the inventor of the Binnacle and 1st Baron Kelvin, once observed that you cannot manage anything you do not measure.  A more modern interpretation is that the only things you manage are the "metrics" you measure and publish.

Michigan passed a law in 2014 to address the debacle of unprocessed Rape Kits in Detroit.

Michigan Bill 2014-HIB-5445 reads, in part:

Sec. 4. (1) A law enforcement agency that receives notice under section 3 that sexual assault kit evidence has been released to that law enforcement agency shall take possession of the sexual assault kit evidence from the health care facility within 14 days after receiving that notice.

Sec. 4. (6) All sexual assault kit evidence submitted to the department on or after the effective date of this act shall be analyzed within 3 months after all of the necessary evidence is received by the department according to standards established by the department or by a laboratory designated by the department provided that sufficient staffing and resources are available to do so.   Underlining added by ERJ

A casual reading of this suggests that all Rape Kits will be processed in fifteen or fewer weeks.  A more careful reading reveals...provided that sufficient staffing and resources are available to do so.
These are the rules....except you won't be held accountable if it is hard.
Every bureaucrat in the world will read this as a "get out of jail free" card.  They only have to comply if it is both convenient and drops easily into budget.

If you are not measuring, you are not managing
Upon being made aware of this bill's shortcomings, I contacted my State Senator, Rick Jones (if you want to comment on this blog article you can call him at (517) 373-3447).  Senator Jones was a county sheriff before he became a politician at the state level.  Law-and-order issues are fast balls right up the middle of his strike zone.

I communicated what I considered to be the shortcomings to him and asked him to address those issues.  As a politician, he is constrained by what he says and how quickly he can move.  For one thing, it needs to be determined if it more properly belongs to the Executive Branch (execution of existing laws) or more properly merits additional legislation (Rick's wheelhouse).  Rule Number One is to not step on the toes of the people whose support you will need in the near future.

As a blogger, well, I got impatient and felt a burning need to write something.  Especially after hearing from a rape victim who waited 9 months for the DNA evidence to get tested.  Clearly, Bill 2014-5445 did not solve the problem.

This is what I want
Supplement Michigan Bill 2014-5445 to include reporting on compliance.
  • Local jurisdictions already report crime data to  the State Police to comply with FBI Uniform Crime Reporting requirements.  Local jurisdictions would be required to report slightly more data.
  • Michigan State Police Records and Data Division would use the additional information to prepare an annual report.
  • The report is to be read into record in the Michigan Senate on the Monday after Mother's day (a slow news day).
  • The report shall list the performance of the lowest ten percent of jurisdictions to the fifteen week Rape Kit processing target for the previous year.  Mid-May should be plenty of time to collect the prior year's data and churn out the report.
  • It shall be noted in the report if the jurisdictions that are in the bottom 10% were also in the bottom 10% the previous year.
  • The report is to list the highest ten percent (or all that are 100% compliant) with the 15 week bogey.
  • The stopwatch for the fifteen week bogey will stop when the lead detective reviews the lab report and makes a preliminary finding.  Reports that sit in "in baskets" un-opened don't count.
  • Each jurisdiction is to list the head Law Enforcement Officer of the jurisdiction for the prior year.
  • If the head Law Enforcement Officer is not elected (as happens in most cities), it is to list the person the head Law Enforcement Officer reports to (usually the mayor).
Failure  to plan is to acknowledge that you consider failure to be an acceptable option.  As the head of a Law Enforcement Agency, making that decision (considering failure to be an acceptable option) for your organization is to also make that decision for the people you swore to protect.

A report that lists the best and worst 10% practically writes its own newspaper article.  We don't need more laws.  We need more transparency.

Reporting on compliance (and non-compliance) to Michigan 2014-5445 would provide voters with data so they can make informed decisions regarding Sheriffs and Mayors.  Sheriffs and Mayors who can keep the oil changed in the county/city vehicles and pay the utility bills on time but cannot be bothered to comply to Mi 2014-5445 clearly have little regard for their constituents.

I want Michigan to pilot this supplement for two years and make tweaks as necessary.

Then I want it to be considered at a National level.  All it would take is a phone-and-a-pen, that is, an Executive Order.  It is my humble opinion that this could be easily incorporated into the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting system.

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