Lynsey Mukomel and 24 Hour News 8 web staff -
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- The Grand Rapids Police Department this week released crime statistics for 2016.
The department says overall crime is down throughout the city and there was not any change in the number of murders, with GRPD handling 10 cases in both 2015 and 2016. There were increases in some specific types of crime, including a 25 percent jump in the number of arsons.
And, like in 2015, there was in an increase in the number of reported rapes. The figure jumped 14 percent from 118 cases in 2015 to 134 in 2016. The department is accounting for the increase in rapes by saying that more victims are coming forward to report it.>>PDF: GRPD crime statistics presentation
"A 14 percent increase is really not statistically very relevant," said Carla Blinkhorn, the CEO of YWCA West Central Michigan, which provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
"The numbers go up and down every year. They're pretty meaningless as far as we're concerned," she continued.
She added that rapes are still extremely underreported.
"The estimates differ from 10 to 25 percent of survivors that actually report sexual assault in general, so we have a very long way to go to have sexual assault survivors come forward. When people understand there are supportive helpful services that are available to them if they're a survivor [at] no cost, I think that really helps them feel comfortable about the idea of coming forward and getting some help," she said.
Another thing to keep in mind is that survivors who utilize services like the YWCA aren't required to also file a police report.
"The survivor really makes the choice if the police are involved or not involved. Our point here is the minute you walk in the door, you begin the healing process," Blinkhorn said.—–Online: YWCA: 616.459.4681Safe Haven Ministries: 616.453.6664
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