U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Attitudes of Reporting Officers Extracted From Incident Reports Can Affect Rape Case Outcomes

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2024

One of the first steps in a rape investigation is the responding officer’s written report. What the officer includes and how those conclusions are worded can have an impact on the case. In a National Institute of Justice-sponsored study that used cross-disciplinary research, data scientists applied machine learning techniques to nearly two decades’ worth of police reports on rape cases. The data scientists used advanced computational power to support social scientists in a study of how evidence of officer sentiment — meaning opinions and subjectivity — toward victims’ credibility may affect key procedural decisions down the line, such as whether to prosecute a rape case. The study aimed to identify linguistic “signaling” of officers’ views or biases found in their narratives of rape reports.