Bus ads to prevent rapes

The Gainesville Police Department and Regional Transit System are working together on a campaign that posts ads on public buses making people aware of date rape and drug awareness issues. The ads consist of paraphrasing from actual events with stock photos of models.

TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 22, 2005 at 12:30 a.m.
An advertising campaign that raises awareness about drug-related rape will be catching the eye of bus riders in Gainesville.
The second phase of the Gainesville Police Department and Regional Transit System's "Comprehensive Drug Plan," began Tuesday with special ads posted inside 25 buses.
The laminated posters feature the faces of college-aged, would-be rape victims and statements by real rape victims from Gainesville and crime victim advocates. The statements have been altered to keep victims' identities private.
One sign reads, "He slipped something in my drink, and the next thing I knew he was on top of me and I couldn't get him to stop."
Club drugs, like MDMA, Rohypnol and LSD, more commonly known as Ecstasy, roofies and acid, are colorless, odorless and tasteless, and have been used in reported rape cases in Alachua County and across the country.
Because Gainesville is a college town, there is a large population of young adults who may not be familiar with date-rape drugs, said Lt. T.D. Welch of GPD, who helped implement the campaign with Capt. Lynne Benck.
"It's about personal responsibility and being aware of your surroundings," said Welch, who hopes women see the ads and become aware of the possible consequences of an unguarded drink.
The campaign, which runs through Feb. 20, is funded with money seized in drug-related arrests.
Last year, $237,000 was used to finance the Comprehensive Drug Plan, which covers prevention, enforcement, treatment and awareness.
The budget for 2005 has been increased to $367,520 to finance "extra projects" that include undercover enforcement, Welch said.
The ads were designed by Group 5 & Associates, a Gainesville graphics firm that also designed the first phase of advertising.
Shirley Davis, a crime victim advocate, helped to develop a focus for the advertising cards.
The first phase of the drug-prevention campaign, which focused on street drugs like cocaine, received much attention when the advertising cards featured photos of five Gainesville people, who are serving from two to 30 years in prison for dealing crack cocaine, Ecstasy or marijuana.
"Friends and family members contacted us after recognizing the people in the pictures," Welch said. "They were upset."
Because this campaign uses models and paraphrased quotes, it is not expected to be as controversial.
The success of the bus ads will be determined by tracking drug-related arrests and by having partnerships with local prevention centers.
If successful, the ad campaign could grow to include billboards and television public service announcements.
Before the start of the fall school semester, police, prosecutors and victims advocates last year warned incoming college students about a series of sexual battery cases in Gainesville involving alcohol and possibly drugs.

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