Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld said his department would work to improve how it categorizes and resolves rape investigations, responding to a Baltimore Sun report that found Baltimore has the nation’s highest rate of cases that officers conclude are false or baseless. The Sun story prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to order an audit of the department’s procedures and statistics. City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he has asked council members to “examine police investigative practices” after the audit is complete.
For four years, according to crime data collected by the FBI, Baltimore has logged a higher percentage of rape cases that officers call false or baseless than any other U.S. city. Nearly one-third of rape cases investigated by detectives are deemed “unfounded” – five times the national average. Four out of 10 emergency calls involving allegations of rape are dismissed even before being forwarded to a detective, suggesting a potentially deeper problem. The Sun reported that one detective in the 50-member unit that handles sexual assaults and child abuse was responsible for one-fifth of the unfounded rape reports last year. The mayor’s director of criminal justice, Sheryl Goldstein, will lead the audit. It will include a review of how emergency calls about sexual assault are handled and an assessment of cases deemed unfounded by detectives.