Jacqueline Robarge of a Baltimore nonprofit called Power Inside has been tapped to work with a city task force formed to improve sexual assault investigations. The Sexual Assault Response Team, which includes police and women’s advocacy groups, is part of ongoing reforms prompted by he Baltimore Sun’s reporting on problems with how city police handle allegations of rape and sexual assault. Those reforms include overhauling the department’s sex offense unit and training for detectives. New protocols have been implemented, barring the practice of patrol officers dismissing reports without at least documenting the allegations.
Robarge fears that her clients — many of whom engage in prostitution — remain overlooked and that the Police Department’s culture change isn’t happening quickly enough. “The women are not being believed,” Robarge said. “These are cases where women have directly engaged the police and nothing has been written down.” Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld plan to announce a new sexual assault prevention campaign, says the Sun. After the Sun reported that Baltimore led the nation in the number of rape reports discarded by detectives, the number being recorded jumped by more than 50 percent in the first six months of this year. Victims’ advocates and others say more needs to done, noting continuing complaints about poor treatment by some detectives.