GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - In the the Grand Island Police Department's annual report, a large increase in the number of reported sexual assaults stands out. But the department doesn't believe it's because more crimes are being committed. Rather that more people are coming forward.
Since 2016, GIPD has seen a 54% increase in the number of sexual assaults reported. with the me too movement and other national pushes a light is being shined on the issue.
“You report it we will do the thorough investigation, hold people accountable, and then we have services to assist you after that,” Chief Robert Falldorf said.
In 2019, 55 cases of rape were reported and that is only counting verified cases. Chief falldorf said about 20-30% of the reports are unfounded. Once the report comes in police work to get victims help.
“The officer is there on the front line to take the report and investigate it but there's a lot that happens behind the scenes where victims need assistance beyond the reporting of the case,” Chief Falldorf said.
The Crisis Center will come to the hospital to visit with survivors. They can get people into counseling or find a place to stay. They, too, are seeing an increase of reports coming in.
“I think many times they have felt empowered by what they've been seeing on social media and through the whole process I think they're just tired of the way they're feeling and they want to be empowered and they want help, and they want to find out what sources are out there because they don't know the resources,” Associate Director LaDonna Obermiller said.
Advocates can help survivors speak with police no matter how old the case may be. But they also want to spread awareness because they fear there are a lot more cases still not being reported.
“I'm sure there are a lot of people who just don't know who to report to still or they're just uncomfortable especially if it's a family member or if it's confusion on their part,” Obermiller said.
They hope the stigma of talking about this topic will continue to disappear. There are different statues of limitations for sexual assault cases. But the Crisis Center and the police department can hear the report and see what can be done to help.