From Kim Minugh:
Despite recent good news from the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding decreasing crime rates in Sacramento, city police officials say they are seeing an increase in sexual assaults so far this year.
In the first quarter of 2009, police have received nearly double the number of reported sexual assaults from the same period of 2008, said department spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong. Additionally, officials have noticed that many of the cases involve assaults by acquaintances of family members of the victim or people known to the victim, Leong said.
Though Leong acknowledged that those assaults are more difficult to prevent because the victims often trust and feel comfortable around their attackers, he said victims can take action to ensure a successful case. He encouraged victims to report the attack immediately, avoid showering prior to an examination and keep the clothes worn during the attack.
Excluding sexual assaults, Leong said crime statistics from the first quarter of 2009 are down compared to 2008 - when statistics showed an 8 percent decrease from the prior year, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI. Homicides in particular are down dramatically this year: there were just six by April 30, 2009 - the end of the first quarter - compared to 16 in the same period last year.
Leong attributed the overall decrease in crime to community cooperation, high staffing levels on patrol and the ability of lieutenants who are watch commanders to shift resources in response to crime trends.
Leong provided these general safety tips for deterring or avoiding sexual assaults by strangers:
- Avoid meeting anyone alone that you have never met or only know casually (i.e. online chat rooms, blind dates, etc.). If you do, make sure someone knows who and where you are meeting, and try to meet in a public place
- If you are out after hours or late at night, have someone you trust walk with you.
- Always watch a bartender mix your drink and don't accept open drinks from strangers.
- Don't go to parties where you don't know the host
- Don't accept rides from strangers
- If you feel uncomfortable with a situation, call someone you trust to pick you up.
- Stay in well-lit, public areas when out at night
- If you don't know a person, don't trust them
- Avoid being intoxicated to the point of not remembering or not being able to defend yourself
- Go out in a buddy system and have an agreement that you will stay together and leave together
- Beware of people you meet on the Internet. Internet conversations can lead to a false sense of knowing a person