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APD tape, comments anger candidates

Monday, November 3, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

The release of a video that features Austin Police officers Mark Lytle and Michael Castillo joking about rape received national attention over the weekend. Subsequent comments by incoming Austin Police Association President Kenneth Casaday proved too much for mayoral candidates (and current Council Members) Mike Martinez and Sheryl Cole. Both issued statements in response to Casaday’s categorization of the tape as “clowning around.” In a statement, Martinez said, “Rape will continue to go underreported if victims of sexual violence do not feel that their cases will be taken seriously by law enforcement. The President of the Police Association failed to take the issue of sexual violence seriously when he described an officer’s catcalling and joking about rape as an example of mere ‘clowning around.’ Mr. Casaday’s statement was offensive and wrong. He should apologize publicly and treat any incidents like this in the future with the seriousness and professionalism they deserve.” Cole’s response states that “rape is no laughing matter” and is widely underreported to police as it is. “It is distressing to note that at least 6% of rape victims don’t report because they believe that the police are biased,” writes Cole. “The days where we protect work cultures that diminish sexual assault and protect abusers over victims are coming to an end. … It was by chance that the rape jokes came to light. The cameras did their job. An apology is not enough; it’s time to address the culture that fosters these kind of demeaning comments.” Cole also said that she is currently looking into providing body cameras for all officers and, as mayor, would continue to pursue that acquisition. The Austin Police Department has apologized for the tape and launched an internal investigation.

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