Friday, May 5, 2023

Rape Crisis Team, Arcata Police Collaborate on Anonymous Reporting System

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2023 at 7:00 AM

When calling the North Coast Rape Crisis Team’s 24/7 crisis line to report a drink spiking, callers will now have the option to anonymously forward details to the Arcata Police Department.

NCRCT receives 20-plus calls a month regarding drug-facilitated assault, according to Executive Director Amanda LeBlanc. But when asked about recent social media reports indicating a possible increase in drink spiking, Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn said he could not remember the last time a report came in.

“What we're offering is our confidential, 24 crisis line, to report anyone who believes they have had a drink spiked, regardless of whether a sexual assault occurred or not, to give details anonymously [to APD].”

Sgt. Luke Scown says the collaboration will allow APD to track incidents and do something about them. Law enforcement will be able to track the number of reports, locations, and timeframes.

“Without reports, we don’t know,” Scown said. “In these cases, it's often that people feel uncomfortable coming forward. Now people will be able to reach out in different ways, and people will have control over how much information they give and if there is an investigation.”

LeBlanc says there are barriers to reporting and misunderstandings about when to report, but she hopes the collaboration will overcome stigmas about reporting spiked drinks.

“Sometimes, when a drink is spiked, people don't realize that that in itself is a crime, and they may not want to talk to law enforcement because they may believe that it seems minor or like the worst didn't happen,” she says.

NCRCT invites the public to report any instances that occurred within the last six months, in addition to any moving forward. Then the nonprofit will anonymize that data, take that report, remove survivor names, and share it with the APD. If APD can find a suspect, it will reach out to NCRCT to see if the survivor would like to speak with police. NCRCT will ask whether or not the caller would be willing to be contacted by law enforcement. LeBlanc emphasizes it will always be the survivor's choice whether they choose to have their data shared.

“Although this is in collaboration with the Arcata Police Department, we want to hear about any kind of incidents throughout Humboldt County and Del Norte County,” LeBlanc says. “If we see that there are other trends in other places in Eureka, Ferndale, Fortuna or Rio Dell, we want to hear about that, too. We're more than happy to give the data to local law enforcement while providing confidentiality for those who want to speak to us.”

NCRCT's 24-hour hotline can be reached at (707) 445-2881. The nonprofit has also created an online reporting form, which can be accessed through the QR code below:

click to enlarge screenshot-2023-05-04-at-4.42.52-pm.png
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