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City must do more to solve rape cases

Portland's unacceptably low rate of solving rape cases demands immediate action.

A report released this week by city Auditor Gary Blackmer is an indictment of this city's entire system for responding to reports of sexual assault. High turnover, poor case management, a lack of training and a failure to aggressively pursue cases are among factors leading to Portland's dismal 16 percent rate for solving rape cases.

That's one of the poorest response rates of major U.S. cities. The immediate goal for Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer and her department must be to bring Portland's capabilities in line with national averages.

But Portland residents shouldn't be satisfied simply with being 'average' when it comes to rape investigations. City, county and law enforcement officials must immediately address residents' expectations for far better public safety.

Certainly, Portland ought to be at least as prepared to respond to sexual assaults as other major cities. But such a measurement is frankly inadequate for a city that aspires to be safer and to offer a higher quality of life than merely the norm.