By Paige Lambert
An increasing number of sexual assault cases have dotted local and county law enforcement blotters since late January.
Many law enforcement officials say while sexual assault cases are troubling, the increases in numbers reflect population growth.
Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd said the number of reported sexual assault cases has stayed within two to six cases each year.
“I don’t think our problems are any different or worse than any other area this size,” Kidd said. “I would say our numbers are pretty typical and coinciding with population going up.”
Buda’s population was marked at 10,209, according to the United States Census Bureau.
According to a report provided by the city, one sexual assault case has been reported this year. The report was defined as indecency with a child and is under investigation by the Criminal Investigations Department.
Kyle, with a population of 31,760, according to the census, had 14 sexual assault cases reported in 2011 and 2012.
Nine cases were reported in 2009 and two were reported in 2016, according to reports.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said a case on a city report doesn’t always mean the offense occurred in that particular area.
He said more officers have been called on sexual assault cases since Seton Medical Center Hays was constructed. Many times officers would arrive to find out the assault occurred in neighboring cities or counties.
“Victims of any kind of assault occasionally end up at the hospital and we get that call,” Barnett said. “Depending on the circumstances we may generate a report or standby with the victim until a police officer from that jurisdiction can come.”
He said report numbers could also be reflected differently based on what system is used. Kyle Police Department currently uses the Uniform Crime Reporting system, which places crimes in eight categories.
Once law enforcement switches to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, cases will be categorized in 23 different categories, Barnett said.
“When people switch to NIBRS, everyone is going to think the crime rate went up,” Barnett said. “The system will now include numbers and cases that weren’t included.”
Nine cases of sexual assault were reported on the Hays County Sheriff’s Office blotter since Jan. 6.
HCSO lieutenant Jeri Skrocki said the time proximity isn’t an anomaly.
“Sometimes we’ll get multiple calls within a week or only one during a month,” Skrocki said. “We’ll see a natural ebb and flow but we haven’t seen a spike in cases.”
Scrocki said of the cases currently under investigation, the victim likely knew the offender. She said many cases deal with child abuse and are made when a family member finally decides to call.
“We don’t have any cases with unknown perpetrators like the cases in Austin,” she said. “It’s very unusual to get a stranger case.”
Kidd said Buda has experienced similar trends in regards to reports. He said a woman reported the sexual assault of her daughter twice within a couple of days.
After tests and interviews, the case was unfounded, meaning there was no evidence of sexual assault, he said.
According to Buda, records showed there was at least one unfounded case each year.
“The more people that are in a city, the more crime that will be reported,” Kidd said. “Nothing jumped out at me that would cause me concern.”
Regardless of how records are interpreted, any report of sexual assault is concerning, Kidd said, adding educating minors and using resources such as the Hays County Women’s Shelter is essential to decreasing the number of cases.
“Most of the time, we see women not leaving situations because they don’t think they have any options,” Kidd said. “Hays County Women’s Center gives them options and the work they do is vital.”
Check next week’s edition of the Hays Free Press to read about how Hays County is combating sexual assualts.