The number of suspected sex crimes investigated by Norwalk’s detective bureau nearly doubled last year.
When the Norwalk Police Department (NPD) released its annual report last week, Chief Mike Conney revealed the number of detective-investigated sex offenses increased from 12 in 2017 to 23 in 2018.
Of the sexual crime-related incidents, gross sexual imposition (GSI) had the most reported cases in the city in 2018 (16), followed by rape (12). Both categories saw an increases in reported incidents, year over year. While each case is “taken seriously,” not all reported incidents are investigated by the detective bureau, Conney said.
“GSI, that’s going to be unwanted touching,” Conney said. “People are supposed to keep their hands to themselves. That's our biggest number. Then if you look at the rape cases, we had 12 reported. Rape is obviously a great offense and any is too many.”
To the police department, victims and everyone else involved, each of the sex offenses is “very important,” Conney said, but he noted Norwalk is still doing better than some other cities.
“In comparison with other places — any crime is a concern, obviously — but I think we're fairly safe. Fortunately, we’re not dealing with these to the same degree as some other places,” he said.
Conney said there’s no “typical” age or victim type for sex crimes.
Last year, the youngest victim in a rape case investigated by NPD was a 3-year-old, Det. Sgt. Seth Fry said. The oldest victim was in her 40s.
In most cases, Fry said, the victim knows the perpetrator personally.
Conney said it’s “hard to know” if these numbers reflect a trend, since some of the investigations could involve an incident that took place in the past but was recently reported.
The chief also said “it’s possible” the #MeToo movement might have led to more reporting of suspected sex offenses. The movement, which encourages sexual assault victims to speak up and share their story, went viral in October 2017. It continued to be in the news throughout 2018 as several prominent Hollywood actors were identified as alleged perpetrators or victims.
Conney said the sex crimes are “taken very seriously” and handled as such — even if that means calling in an off-duty detective after hours.
“All of these cases are serious,” Fry said. “Each of the victims and reports, they’re all important.”
It wasn’t all bad news in the NPD report, though. In 2017, the detective bureau investigated three cases of prostitution and six cases of internet crimes/child pornography. In 2018, there were no cases investigated in either category.
Conney said knowing how to protect yourself is one of the best things people can do to prevent such a crime.
The department offers personal self-defense and anti-rape classes. The classes are available for large groups — ones have been done for Fisher-Titus Medical Center staffers and at local daycare facilities — or on an individual basis.
Those interested can call 419-663-6780 and tell how much time the person or group would like to spend on the class and how many will be in attendance. There is a nominal fee. However, the chief said the department has never turned away someone unable to pay.
“And it’s not like we keep the money we get from it,” Fry added. “We treat it like a donation to something like our D.A.R.E. program.”
COMING WEDNESDAY: Part 3 in this series will focus on the city’s war on drugs throughout the past year and how the department has seen a large spike in methamphetamine use.
BREAKOUT BOX 1
This week, the Reflector is publishing a six-part series about the Norwalk Police Department’s 2018 annual report.
Here is the focus of each part:
Monday - Crime overview
TODAY - Sex offenses
Wednesday - Drug crimes
Thursday - Traffic law enforcement
Friday - Most dangerous intersections
Saturday - Department updates and vision
BREAKOUT BOX 2
SEX CRIMES IN NORWALK
Here are the numbers of sex-related crimes and arrests in Norwalk during the last two years.
Category 2017 2018
Gross sexual imposition (GSI) — 13 (1) 16 (2)
Pandering obscenity — 10 (0) 2 (0)
Rape — 9 (0) 12 (1)
Indecent exposure — 6 (4) 4 (2)
Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor — 0 (0) 0 (0)
NOTE: Related arrests are in parenthesis.
SOURCE: Norwalk Police Department
“People are supposed to keep their hands to themselves.”
— Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney