In a performance audit conducted by the Office of the Inspector General from June 1, 2010, through May 31, 2013, we learned that the New Orleans Police Department has misclassified rape cases in New Orleans. As women’s rights advocates in New Orleans, we share the inspector general’s concern about this gravely disturbing trend in NOPD reporting.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes. An average of 237,868 Americans (age 12 or older) are victims of sexual assault each year. RAINN states that 60 percent of sexual assaults are NOT reported to the police, and 97 percent of rapists will never spend one day in jail. Sexual assault has become an epidemic in America, one that people are afraid or reluctant to talk about. It is time we allow victims to have a voice and hold law enforcement accountable for making perpetrators see justice.

We strongly urge New Orleanians to help victims of sexual assault by encouraging victims to report the crime and offering them the emotional support needed to go through the healing process.

New Orleanians deserve a better response to sexual assault from the NOPD. We need to know that we will be heard. We need law enforcement to support sexual assault survivors.

Julie Thibodaux

interim director, Loyola University of New Orleans Women’s Resource Center

New Orleans

Elizabeth Blankenship

director, UNO Women’s Center

New Orleans