As many as five Baltimore police detectives will review rape reports from the past 18 months to determine whether they were appropriately dismissed by detectives, the first step as officials try to improve the way the city investigates rapes and other sex crimes, reports the Baltimore Sun. Col. Dean Palmere, chief of criminal investigations, said a sergeant and three or four detectives not affiliated with the sex offense unit plan to examine reports from 2009 and the first half of 2010. They will also look at more than two dozen complaints made by alleged victims through a recently established hot line.
Because the department’s protocols are under scrutiny, the detectives will be judging the cases based on a yet-to-be-determined set of new standards. Consultants or others not part of the police department could also be involved in the audit. The review was one of the initiatives discussed yesterday as a group of law enforcement officials and those who work with victims of sexual assault met for the first time since Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the group to focus on reforming sex-offense investigations. The request came after the Sun pointed out apparent irregularities in the way police handle sex crimes. Since 2004 the city has led the U.S. in the percentage of rape cases determined by investigators to be untrue or baseless, with about a third of rape reports marked “unfounded” each year.