Our View: A serious setback to overcome
SouthtownStar editorial August 27, 2013 10:16PM
Updated: September 29, 2013 6:45AM
One of the more disturbing stories we’ve covered during the past year, one that’s still unfolding, is the stunning negligence, if not callousness, of Robbins police in not pursuing at least 201 rape cases dating back nearly 30 years.
Cook County sheriff’s police, who have been assisting Robbins police since January, discovered the rape evidence kits in the police department’s evidence room that month. As best as sheriff’s police can determine, 150 of the kits were tested but never pursued and 51 were never sent in for testing.
We’re at a loss to explain how a police department could be so indifferent and/or incompetent to not pursue such a brutal crime, leaving victims angry and frustrated at not having their attackers brought to justice. It appears that the statute of limitations has expired in all the cases.
Recent news stories, including a rape victim coming forward to tell her story after 22 years, turned up the heat on village officials. To their credit, Mayor Tyrone Ward and Police Chief Melvin Davis, who took office this spring, have faced the issue squarely and pledged to make sure it never happens again.
They profess that a sense of civic dignity and purpose has returned to the impoverished village of about 5,300. It’s only words for now, and they won’t count for much if deeds don’t follow.
We hope Robbins can come back from this latest serious setback. But it will be a long process. Government inertia and corruption can run deep in a town where residents’ daily struggles engender despair and leave little time for civic involvement. And resources are thin — the support of sheriff’s police remains necessary for now to ensure public safety.
A key question is whether women can feel safer today in Robbins. We understand their distrust, if not fear, because they’ve been victimized by sexual assaults for decades with little chance for their voices to be heard. That evil corrodes a community at its core.
Robbins residents deserve much better government and law enforcement, if for no other reason than allowing women to walk the streets safely again.