Local News

Rocky Mount Officers Volunteer to Improve Handling of Rape Cases

Posted January 12, 1999

— When a woman is raped, it is a brutal and traumatic experience. Trying to solve the crime can be uncomfortable for the victim and the police officer.

Wednesday, several Rocky Mount police officers volunteered their time to learn how to handle rape cases better which, in turn, will help them get more convictions.

Linda Davenport is one of the first people rape victims see right after an attack. She is a forensics nurse examiner at Nash General Hospital.

"The sexual offense itself is not because they want sex. It's because they want power over the person, and that's the ultimate thing, that they have the power," said Davenport.

Davenport will be part of a team that works together with Rocky Mount police, victims and prosecutors to simplify the legal process and put away rapists.

The class, funded by state grant money, is part of the program. Housing Authority officer Carmen Guyette is one of nearly 40 officers who volunteered to learn more about rape victims' needs.

"Let them know what's going on during the investigation and after the prosecution has been made, keep them in mind. Let them know that we're still there for them. Let them understand," said Guyette.

The more at ease the victims are, the more likely they are to testify and help convict their attackers.

"The victim is going to have to be a part of this team, because without the victim, you can't successfully prosecute and put the rapist away. So, a lot of work of this team will be to continue an ongoing relationship with the victim even though the trial may be a year down the road," said Linda Jones, police victim advocate.

The effort is not because of complaints about the department. In 1998, the department solved 91 percent of its rape cases, leaving only two unsolved.

They say they can always do better, and this is part of their effort to do that.

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