A Baltimore police spokesman defended yesterday the department’s decision to delay notifying Mount Vernon residents of a string of rapes, saying that investigators worked to gather reliable information before notifying the public. Late Monday, days after community groups began spreading word about burglaries and sexual assaults that had occurred there in recent weeks, police confirmed that investigators were exploring links between as many as six crimes this fall, reports the city’s Sun.
Two posters featuring sketches of possible suspects were distributed to the news media that evening. The issue of early notification versus a quiet investigation is a frequent subject of conflict between the police, the media and the public. “We have to be careful to balance speed and accuracy, and that’s a challenge … particularly when you’re talking about releasing information about someone who may have committed more than one crime or has the potential to commit more,” said Sterling Clifford, the police spokesman. “Frankly, there wasn’t a good sketch or description of the suspect for a long time, and it took time to get that and to make sure that the information we had was solid enough to at least come to the conclusion that there were some crimes that were linked.”