AUSTIN — On Monday, Dec. 31, the Austin Police Department released the preliminary results from an audit conducted by Texas DPS regarding the department's handling of sex assault cases in January, November and December of 2017 -- months which were selected by DPS.
The results provided from Austin Police Chief Brian Manley were as follows, per the review from DPS in the audit:
- 30 cases inaccurately labeled as "exceptionally cleared."
- 29 cases accurately labeled as "exceptionally cleared."
- 14 cases that were labeled as "exceptionally cleared" should have been labeled "unfounded."
- Six cases did not follow "hierarchy rule." Ex.: UCR reporting of a robbery resulting in a homicide, you'll only see it reported as a homicide per the hierarchy rule.
- One case was not reviewed by DPS due to it being an internal affairs allegation.
- Two cases could have been cleared in previous years but were not.
LISTEN TO APD CHIEF BRIAN MANLEY'S COMMENTS HERE:
Note: Chief Manley incorrectly stated the dates of training. Training will begin on Jan. 8 and 9 for Train the Trainer. Detectives will be trained the week of Jan. 14. All exceptionally cleared cases will be reviewed from Jan. 14 to Feb. 8. UCR numbers will be reported to DPS by Feb 15.
On Dec. 4, the Austin Police Department announced the external audit underway at the department regarding how police handled a number of sexual assault cases, this after a lawsuit was filed against the APD earlier this summer.
APD was looking into its use of its exceptional clearance rate -- which Chief Brian Manley said is above average when compared to other cities -- that did not adhere to Unified Crime Reporting (UCR) guidelines. Chief Manley said the APD became aware of the issue several years ago under different management. In some cases, those cases were suspended when they actually met exceptional clearance guidelines.
In order to be transparent to the community, Chief Manley wanted to outline specific details about the audit:
The Texas DPS conducted an outside audit of the APD’s exceptional clearance code, along with their investigative processes when looking at sexual assaults.
The first part of that audit involves looking at the department’s policy and procedures behind sexual assault investigations. The second part is an independent audit of selected cases. Auditiors will determine if those case closures were appropriate based on guidelines.
The selected cases by the DPS involved in the audit include every single case from January, November and December of 2017. Auditors read through each case to make sure that when they were closed exceptionally, that it was done so according to UCR guidelines.
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley explained that police departments report their data to both the state and federal government under what’s called UCR reporting.
Through this system, departments report certain crimes to federal authorities in order to be compared to other cities. Part of that reporting will include how they have cleared specific cases.
There are multiple ways a case can be cleared:
- Arrest. The offender has actually been arrested.
- Unfounded. The case was investigated and an offense was not believed to have occurred.
- Suspended. The case was investigated, but not to a point where any further steps could have occurred.
- Exceptional clearance. The case was investigated to a point where the offender was identified, their address was located, a probable cause exists to make the arrest, but an arrest was not made for one of the following reasons: the victim refused to cooperate and the ability to obtain prosecution is hampered; the prosecution is declined by the district attorney’s office; the offender is deceased; or the offender is charged in another jurisdiction and they cannot be transported locally.
Chief Manley reiterated that just because a case is exceptionally cleared, it does not mean the case is fully closed. If a survivor decided to come forward and cooperate, the exceptional closure would not have any bearing in it being investigated again.
The audit's preliminary results were released on Dec. 31. Chief Manley said on Dec. 4 that the sex assault kit backlog is a completely unrelated event to the audit.