Sexual assault reports slightly increased in Fargo; FPD to undergo more training

There were 111 rapes reported between January and December of 2022.
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:41 AM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -The Fargo Police Department is working to gain better tools and tactics to help better investigate sexual assaults in the city after a slight increase in reports in 2022.

Last year, there were 111 rapes reported between January and December. Of those, 13 resulted in an arrest, which is about a 12% clearance rate. Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski says investigators are undergoing training this month to learn more tools and tactics to better conduct comprehensive investigations into these types of crimes.

“It’s a unique crime in general, but it is a crime of violence and a crime of control. Some of them are very difficult to prove one way or the other. It’s certainly a lot in there that I think is proveable with the right tactics and tools and giving it the right attention

Zibolski says investigating sexual assaults comes with many challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the continued backlog of testing rape kits at the state lab. He says the situation has not improved as the lab is still in need of adequate staffing to process those kits.

“The longer we have to wait can have a real adverse effect on the investigation. A lot of times that evidence itself may be the only physical evidence there is in a particular report. It’s kind of critical for us to know that answer,” he said.

The majority of the cases reported involve the victim and the suspect having an association with each other. Zibolski says it is rare a case is the result of a random attack. He says while sexual assault cases are often hard to prosecute, it’s important that a victim does not try to destroy evidence.

“A lot of times people have the immediate reaction where they want to shower and clean up, get rid of the clothing,” Zibolski said. “It’s all part of that psychological trauma of the event, but that is really critical evidence.”

Zibolski says also don’t get rid of bedsheets as they too could provide crucial evidence.

If someone has been a victim of rape contact the police immediately. Also, it is crucial to get a sexual assault examination.

For information on local resources for sexual assault victims, visit Rape and Abuse Crisis Center’s website.