Nearly a third of all sexual assault cases reported in the first quarter of 2018 are being re-examined by the Calgary Police Service under the Philadelphia Model pilot project.
Named after the city where the program originated, the Philadelphia Model allows independent agencies to work with police to review cases of sexual assault which were closed as unfounded or cleared otherwise.
According to data from police, 299 sexual offences were logged in the first three months of 2018. Staff Sgt. Bruce Walker with the Calgary police sex crimes unit said 89 cases closed between January and March are currently under review.
He said the service will be reviewing closed cases every three months “by walking through every step of an investigation” with sexual violence experts, adding the oversight they bring to the process helps police improve how cases of sexual violence are investigated.
“When we look into these files we look into every aspect of the investigation and see if there’s any training opportunities — from human biases or what have you — that can be addressed,” Walker said.
Staff Sgt. Bruce Walker, head of the CPS sex crimes unit, pictured on June 29, 2017.
And while the reviews are still underway, Walker said it’s possible some previously closed cases could be re-opened if police and experts find “that more could have been done.”
Walker said “cleared otherwise” cases include those with “insufficient evidence,” cases where the victim has withdrawn a complaint, or cases closed “but not by charges being laid.”
Calgary is one of 12 municipalities across Canada under a pilot project for the model with the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre and Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault.
Sunny Marriner with the crisis centre says the model meets two goals; providing a “safety net” to catch cases which shouldn’t be closed, and to improve how police investigate cases of sexual violence.
“That way what we’re doing is targeting training and outcomes with actual barriers that are occurring here in Calgary, rather than barriers that might be occurring somewhere else,” Marriner said.
Danielle Aubry, CEO of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault, said the Philadelphia Model helps law agencies benefit from the expertise of sexual assault experts who “deal with sexual violence cases every single day, day in, day out.”
“And we also come from a trauma-based lens and always have so we understand how trauma impacts people,” she said. “But we also understand sexual violence and rape myths and how they …read more