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The Montrose Police Department said Monday it has been made aware of stories concerning possible stranger-rapes in Montrose, but stresses it has received no such reports.

The agency is asking residents to practice situational awareness and to report crimes of which they may be aware.

The MPD heard rumors over the weekend of several sexual assaults perpetrated by strangers, Cmdr. Matt Smith said.

“During that timeframe, we fielded no such calls, nor initiated investigations of that type,” he said, reading from a statement prepared after a Montrose Daily Press inquiry.

“As always, we urge everyone in our community to practice situational awareness as they go about their activities. We want folks to watch out for each other, and if you see anything out of the ordinary or suspicious, please, let us know,” Smith said.

The agency commends all victims of sexual assaults who do come forward with reports to law enforcement, he said.

“The Montrose Police Department will always investigate these heinous offenses to the fullest extent of our capabilities,” Smith said.

“If we were to have a situation like that, we would definitely let the public know,” he told the Daily Press. “If there was a public safety risk aspect to anything, no matter what kind of offense it is, we’re going to let the public know if we have that kind of information.”

The police department would not necessarily have information that was reported to a private, confidential advocate, such as caseworkers at Hilltop Community Resources. Hilltop’s Montrose Family Resource Center/Latimer House makes its services available to sexual assault victims, regardless of whether they make a police report.

The Montrose Police Department has, however, received 21 reports of sex offenses since January, Smith said.

“All we know is that one of those may involve someone who is unknown to the victim and that’s all we can say. It’s currently an ongoing investigation,” he said.

The reports pertain to all types of sexual offenses, not only sexual assault. Smith said it’s hard to fathom receiving that many reports about sexually based crimes in just a four-month period.

“It’s a serious offense. We do commend people for coming forward, because it is a very, very personal, heinous crime. But we definitely want to know about these if at all possible,” Smith said.

To report a sex offense, or any crime, or to provide information about a crime, call dispatch at 970-249-9110. In an emergency, when the crime is in progress, and when safety threat is imminent, always call 911.

Montrose Family Resource Center, which offers advocacy and counseling services to victims regardless whether they pursue legal action, can be reached at 970-252-7445 or (hotline) 970-241-6704.

The Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center, serving child victims of abuse, can be reached at 970-240-8655.

The Hispanic Affairs Project operates a sexual assault and domestic violence awareness component; 970-249-4115.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the senior writer for the Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP.

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