Freeport sees uptick in sexual assaults, police has action plan - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Freeport sees uptick in sexual assaults, police has action plan

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FREEPORT (WREX) -

The Freeport Police Department says sexual assault in the city is a problem it wants to get under control. 

Since 2011, the area has seen a 267 percent increase in the number of cases reported.  

"With the news media and everybody speaking out, there's no shame to reach out and help," says Barbra Well, a sexual assault therapist with Voice in Freeport.  

However, Freeport Police Chief Todd Barkalow says he thinks the recent uptick has something to do with how the department reports the crime. In the past, he says the department had to turn away victims because the assault happened in a different jurisdiction. 

"I think they're like you know I tried," Barkalow says. "I tried and you know I really don't want to go through that again so right now."

Now, Barkalow says his department takes down all information a victim brings forward and then sends it to the area the crime occurred. 

"I think with the ease of reporting, which I think is a good thing, I think we'll see those numbers rise just a little bit," Barkalow says.  

Freeport Police is also taking its enforcement a step further by opening a Special Victims Unit. The new division aims to follow up with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, a step Wells says is critical.

"I find that my survivors -- if they initially know that after they've been victimized that they are believed, that they are supported, that they are safe that they heal quickly," Wells says.  

Sending support for survivors -- something police and experts say makes a difference in their road to recovery. 


 


 

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