If you have spent any time reading my past posts, you know that I am dedicated to reforming our immigration system and that I have lived and survived the brutal rape culture of the U.S. Border Patrol. Often female officers write to me privately to confess the sexual harassment and assaults they have had to endure just to get a job. It is because of this and of the continued celebrated rape culture I witness in these agencies on a daily basis that I have decided to create a group, ultimately maybe an organization, dedicated to stopping the rape culture of law enforcement agencies.
When most think of cop rape culture, they likely think of those cops using their positions as a means to get sexual favors from victims. Like when they shake down a sex worker in the middle of the night or a drug dealer. There are those cops who use their badge to rape and assault anyone they come across. A hand or blow job instead of an arrest kind of thing. These scenarios maybe the first thing that pops into your mind, but they are not the only ones. Cops who commit sexual assaults often start their crimes in the law enforcement academies they attend. They learn that not only is this behavior condoned, but it is often encouraged by the upper ranks.
The system of policing is literally built with sexual violence as its basis. When you consider that America’s policing systems are rooted in the return of runaway slaves and white supremacy, it is only common sense that sexual violence is included in that heritage. After all, white supremacy does not exist without sexual violence. They exist together. Always.
Knowing this, and knowing that police and politicians have built an entire system that discourages complaints, harasses victims and re-traumatizes them when they come forward to complain of racial injustices at the hands of bad cops, you should not be surprised that this exists for woman who complain against cops as well. God forbid you are a woman of color.
Yet we do not discuss this.
To me, this is not an either-or type of activism. Women should not have to sit by and wait for racial equality before we can work on the rape culture. For one, it’s not certain that we will ever reach racial equality in this country as we cannot even seem to agree on what that is. It also should be understood that the rape culture in policing affects people of color and men as well.
What do I mean by cop rape culture? I mean the entire system of policing from the top to the bottom, from the chiefs to the trainees is filled with the culture and attitudes that women do not belong in law enforcement and that the women who are there are just there to serve the men’s sexual needs. I’m talking about how percentages of women in law enforcement are still pathetically low and even lower in their management positions. I am talking about the private Facebook groups like the Border Patrol’s “I’m 10–15” that shared memes of female congressional members being sexual assaulted that current Chief Rodney Scott was a proud member of. I’m talking about how cops were charged with over four hundred rapes in the span of nine years and how that’s grossly undercounted.
And no, I am not saying that all male cops are rapists or even condone that behavior. There are also many female cops who join in on the rape culture and help sustain it.
Generally speaking, I have learned from both personal experience and from speaking with other female officers that there is similarity in these agencies on how the promote and condone cop rape culture. I have sat and listened to stories from female officers who considered their assaults, rapes and gang rapes by fellow officers to be a sort of cop hazing for them. Almost like being jumped into a gang, but instead they were raped into it. The Border Patrol has this same game, usually played on academy graduation nights, called the Game of Smiles. It is part of some officers’ induction into the agency.
When a victim wants to press charges, police management often pushes them towards filing civil complaints instead of actual criminal charges. Complaints are often investigated by officers who believe in the rape culture or agencies like the federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) agency that works with the offending agency to slow walk the case. The victim is investigated as much, usually more, than the offending officer. They will wait three, four, six or more years just for the chance to sue the agency. Meanwhile, their attackers have gone on to have successful careers and sexually assaulted many more.
Female officers do not like to talk about this, not even to each other. It is seen as just something they must go through, they must endure to wear that badge, and so, we really have no idea how often these crimes occur. Cops don’t keep stats on their officers who are accused of sexual harassment, rape, assault, domestic violence. I cannot look into the EEO files and study how prevalent this problem is. It is all secret. They must keep the victim’s confidentiality they say. And with that, they use the system to keep the culture going and protect themselves.
Management knows this. The cops know this. It works to their benefit, and they have powerful unions that assist in defending their rape-prone officers. They can offer victims much deserved settlements, and the victims in turn are forced to sign away their rights and never speak of it again. The offending cop keeps offending, and the cop rape culture gets stronger.
But what if we didn’t stay quiet? What if we talked? What if we banded together and found ways to change the system, to demand more females be hired and better, more open ways of reporting sexual assaults were developed? What if we use Stop Cop Rape Culture to discuss this and push legislatures to pass meaningful, impactful legislation that made these rape cultures cower like the cowards they are? What if we said enough? No more? #MeToo?
My hope with this group is to create an open and safe space for discussion. The systems we have in place do nothing to protect female officers, which means they do nothing to protect those being policed by them. All allegations of cop sexual assault cannot be dealt with by government agencies that only serve to hide their crimes. We must develop an outside, private, professional way of analyzing and dealing with this culture if we are ever to stop it.