In 1974, the Baltimore City Council heard allegations that “police and prosecutors treat rape victims in a degrading manner, that scores of rapes are never reported for fear of this treatment and because of embarrassment.” The Baltimore Sun says that 36 years later, the same issue is prominent. Baltimore police deem nearly one-third of rape reports “unfounded,” meaning they believe they are false or baseless – more than in any other city.
Law enforcement experts cite a culture that relies on evaluating job performance through statistics and in which police officers harbor an inherent distrust for victims and suspects alike. Sheldon Greenberg, a former police officer who now heads a police executive training program at Johns Hopkins University, said the over-reliance on numbers encourages manipulation. “Too many police executives around the country are judged by good stats and the absence of problems,” Greenberg said. “If you don’t upset the apple cart and generate good stats, you’re considered in high regard, regardless of whether the community is better.” Greenberg said that cops dismissing and downgrading crime has been going on – and will go on – as long as politicians need the low crime figures to win elections. Cops are so intent on bringing down the numbers that they have no time to do the work required to actually reduce crime, he said.