Sexual Assault Committed by On-duty Police Officers

Sexual Assault Committed by On-duty Police Officers


The paper is about research on the cases of sexual assault by on-duty police officers. This research is important because, through it, we can identify most of the victims of sexual assault by police officers. Through this research, the justice department will be able to understand the root of the problem and prevent such cases from happening in the future. A majority, if not all, police officers are ethical and not sexual predators. Only a small percentage of police officers appear to be unethical. One reason it is hard to fight this type of crime is that the victims are afraid to come out and report. Since most of the post-sexual offenders are free, crime continues to grow. This paper also seeks to explain why the majority of the police officers who are sexual offenders are not behind bars for their crimes. The methods used to collect data during this research include interviewing some of the victims and issuing questionnaires to civilians.

From the findings, we can conclude that the victims of sexual assault by police officers mostly suspect that the police were supposed to protect them. Unethical on-duty police officers target people who cannot defend themselves. They tend to go for victims, such as drug offenders, whom people will not likely believe. Sexual misconduct by police officers is a problem that should be taken very seriously. The victims of such cases should get their justice, and the justice system should try its best to prevent the occurrence of such misconduct. While most people would view sexual assault committed by on-duty police officers as a small crime, it threatens how civilians view the police departments and justice system. It is, therefore, necessary for the justice system to ensure that the offenders face the law and that such cases do not occur in the future.


Police officers are expected to maintain law and order in the society by preventing crime, protecting civilians, and enforcing the law. An on-duty police officer is an officer who oversees a particular area at a specific time. Sexual assault can be defined as the act of sexually touching another person without their consent. Police officers have a lot of power. They possess guns, making it difficult for people to resist them even when they are making sexual advances. Some the police officers take advantage of their authority by assaulting citizens.

Sexual assault can take place anywhere; however, with police officers, it may happen when they are in their line of duty. Most cases of sexual assault by on-duty police officers have been reported to occur during traffic stops. This may take place mostly at night and when there are few witnesses. Sexual assault can also occur during arrests when someone is in police custody. This could happen when the victim is detained or handcuffed, making it difficult to protect herself, or when an accused is in custody (Purvis&Blanco, 2020). Some of the victims of on-duty police officers could be interns or mentees. It could be a person interested in a law enforcement career or an intern in the police department.

Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault by police officers. However, some police officers tend to prey on individuals who can not fight back. Ironically the people who are supposed to be protected end up being abused. Children are those who cannot fight back but have been victims of sexual assault by police officers. According to an investigative report, women who have been involved in domestic abuse are also victims of on-duty sexual misconduct by the police. In such cases, police officers pretend to offer help and only end up abusing the victim. Among the victims of sexual misconduct are women who abuse drugs, women of color, transgender women, or women involved in the sex trade. Police officers go for these women because they know no one will believe them (Zvi, 2022).

Another unfortunate thing is the number of police officers still free despite being sexual offenders. Because they are in power, police officers continue to participate in such misconduct, believing officers will not catch them. The police officers are protected by their department and the union. Another reason is that most of the victims of sexual assault by police officers are usually reluctant to report that crime. Silence is their only option because they are sometimes threatened. Cases of sexual offenses by on-duty police officers are mostly ignored, and the victim’s effort to seek justice becomes fruitless.


The method that was chosen to collect data for this study was qualitative methodology so that meaningful data could be obtained and the process of data capture could be faster. One of the methods used was interviews. Interviews took place at an anonymous place for security purposes. The people who participated in the interviews were mostly women who volunteered to help with this research. The tools that were used during the interview included cameras and microphones. The identity of the interviewees would be kept anonymous also for the purpose of their security. Approximately fifty women between the age of eighteen to forty-five were interviewed. The interviews were structured to meet the objectives of the researcher. The objective of collecting this data was to find the number of victims of sexual assault by police officers and the number of people who had reported these cases. Among them were women who had once been arrested and victims of gender-based violence. Unfortunately, we did not have any males participating in the interviews.

Another source of data was documented from cases which were already existing. We extracted data from relevant documents that were already existing. This included data from magazines, emails, and newspapers. A focus group was also formed where we got people’s opinions, thoughts, and attitudes on the issue of sexual assault by on-duty police officers. We tried to use observation by setting up cameras at various traffic stops. However, this method was unsuccessful since we could not get a police officer in action.


After conducting detailed research, we discovered that out of ten women; four had been victims of sexual assault. A quarter of these victims had been assaulted by police officers who were on duty. The majority of these women had not reported the cases to anyone. These women also had very different opinions and thoughts on the matter of sexual misconduct by on-duty police officers. According to the interviews, some women are bitter because they want justice to be served. On the other hand, they fear coming out as victims because they were threatened not to tell anyone.

According to the results, the sexual misconduct by police officers mostly took place at traffic stops during the night. At this time, the victim was mostly helpless and could not call for help since the police officers were armed. It was also discovered that, as mentioned above, victims of gender-based violence were targeted. Fortunately, from the result, there was not anyone who had been a victim of sexual assault as a minor. Moreover, it was discovered that the numbers of these cases are lacking.


The main purpose of this paper was to discuss the matter of sexual assault committed by on-duty police officers. The results from the study show that sexual assault by on-duty police officers is an issue that should be addressed. This issue could be a big problem if it is not addressed as soon as possible. According to a report by the Cable News Network, in nine years, more than four hundred women were assaulted by police officers (McLaughlin, 2018). These could be the women who were not afraid of speaking out against sexual misconduct. The cases o police sexual misconduct are usually referred to as hidden offenses.

One could seek to understand why numbers are lacking in such cases. One of the greatest hindrances to understanding the extent of sexual assault by on-duty police is the reluctance to report such crimes by victims. When a police officer assaults someone, they must report to the police department where the police officer works. This could either be fruitful or futile. The reason being the report could be made to a colleague of the police officer, who could also be a friend of the police. Another reason it is hard for justice to be served for such people is that unions usually protect police officers. Unions do not allow police officers to be embarrassed in case anything goes wrong.

Another reason why it is hard for sexual assault victims to get justice is that those police officers work in environments with little visibility and supervision. Furthermore, these police officers have a reputational advantage over others, particularly those indicted for crimes. Most people are more likely to believe a police officer than a suspected criminal. Police officers know this, and they calculatedly victimize such people. Those, as mentioned above, are the reasons why the majority of the victims do not report crimes of sexual misconduct by police officers.

It was also discovered that police departments tend to such reports. Most of the time, they try to silence the victim by threatening and intimidating them. They are discouraged from making such reports. There have been cases where victims have filed lawsuits against police departments and local government for ignoring the investigation of cases. Such cases are only met with victims being questioned on how they were dressed, why they were in a particular neighborhood, or how many drinks they had when the misconduct occurred. On-duty police officers are mostly working unsupervised. This gives room for them to break the rules, sexual misconduct being one of them. The majority of them work alone late at night, away from witnesses in case of a crime.

Why are the numbers of on-duty police sexual offenders very high? Lack of police training could be another reason. Most police officers in the police agency have not undergone training programs that prohibit on-duty sexual assault against civilians. Lack of proper guidance and training has dangerous repercussions, especially for male officers. Training these officers for their job is very essential, especially the ones with little experience. They should be trained in handling real-life issues, such as dealing with victims of sexual assault. They must be taught how to deal with the trauma of witnessing dangerous crimes. Regular exposure to crime could result in hyper-aggressive behavior, damaging their mental well-being and leading to behavioral impairment.


To summarize it all, sexual misconduct by on-duty police officers is a significant matter that should be addressed with all seriousness. It is a problem that has been ignored for a long time and may result in dangerous repercussions if it continues to be ignored. Police officers are supposed to protect civilians, and it is sad to see some of them take advantage of victims. The victims that these police officers take advantage of are people who look up to them for protection.

However, this misconduct can be prevented if the justice system takes such crimes seriously. If the union can take off the protection of police sexual offenders, this could result in reduced cases of sexual assault by police officers. Police officers that commit sexual misconduct while on duty should be treated like other sexual offenders. They should be tried in the court, and justice should be served to the victims of sexual assault.

Secondly, victims of assault by police officers should be encouraged to report that crime. The victims should be offered protection by the government when they speak up. Encouraging the victims to come out will reduce the number of such cases. Also, the police should aim to win the people’s trust by first solving previous misconduct cases that have been ignored. To avoid giving room for sexual assault by police officers, on-duty officers should not be allowed to work without supervision. Lastly, police officers should be properly trained before being allowed to work on police assignments. They should be interviewed properly and their state of mind and thoughts.


Dodge, A., Spencer, D., Ricciardelli, R., & Ballucci, D. (2019). “This isn’t your father’s police force”: Digital evidence in sexual assault investigations. Australian & New Zealand journal of criminology52(4), 499-515.

Lapsey Jr, D. S., Campbell, B. A., & Plumlee, B. T. (2022). A systematic review and meta-analysis is a focal concern and police decision making in sexual assault cases. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse23(4), 1220-1234.

McLaughlin, E. C. (2018). Police officers in the US were charged with more than 400 rapes over a 9-year period. CNN. Retrieved from: https://www. CNN. com/2018/10/19/us/police-sexual-assaults-Maryland-scope/index. HTML.

Purvis, D. E., & Blanco, M. (2020). Police sexual violence: Police brutality,# MeToo, and masculinities. Calif. L. Rev.108, 1487

Zvi, L. (2022). Police perceptions of sex-Worker rape victims and their offenders: a vignette study. Journal of interpersonal violence37(15-16), NP14189-NP14214.

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