RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Anyone using the Raleigh Police Department's newly-launched online crime mapping tool will be able to easily see where a variety of crimes have been reported near their home, work, or school -- except in cases of rape or sexual assault.
Jim Sughrue, a RPD spokesperson, said the new system that came online last week is an improved version of a crime mapping tool that was previously available through the City of Raleigh. The interactive website takes you block by block, noting where homicides, burglaries, and thefts among others on a long list of crimes have been reported. The data is updated daily and the user can search as far back in time as they'd like.
"If people know that those crimes have occurred around them, if they see one or two of those kinds of reports, then they will know that's something they ought to be paying particular attention to," said Sughrue.
Only two types of sex crimes will show up on the map: indecent exposure and secret peeping.
Sughrue said it's the department's longstanding policy to alert the public of cases of rape or sexual assault when it poses a threat to public safety.
"There's a balance that has to take place between the privacy of the victim in those cases and providing public information," he said. "The vast majority of sex offenses that occur, occur between suspects and victims that are known to one another."
Stephanie Francis, Dir. of Education, Engagement, and Prevention at Interact, a Raleigh-based advocacy group for domestic violence, sexual assault and rape victims, said the statistics may be surprising to some.
"I think there is sort of a stereotypical idea about what rape or sexual assault looks like," said Francis, who noted in two-thirds of sexual assault cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim.
As for whether the public should be made aware of these types of crimes when they happen, Francis said, different victims want different things.
"We want to make sure that we meet the clients where they are, that we trust them as the expert in their own situation and we want to help them figure out what it is they need, what it is they want to do," she said.
Sughrue said there's no indication that mapping leads to victims of other crimes being targeted, and there's a different standard when it comes to protecting the privacy of those victims.
"I just don't think there is a stigma attached to a burglary that's attached to a rape," he said.
It's that stigma that Francis notes is what prevents victims of sex crimes from coming forward in the first place.
"I think it's important for the community to understand that this is a very real issue, that it impacts our community and every community," said Francis.
Interact, located at 1012 Oberlin Road, Suite 100 in Raleigh, provides a number of services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault.
For more information visit their website: www.interactofwake.org