Bealefeld confronts charges on unreported rapes
Baltimore Police Commissoner Frederick H. Bealefeld today made his first public comments on Justin Fenton's Baltimore Sun story that concludes city police detectives "unfound" more rape reports than another big police department in the country.
According to The Sun's Julie Bykowicz, here is what the commissioner had to say:
"It certainly draws attention to a situation we've been focused on ... " He said the police have been working with women's groups since Jane Doe legislation passed to "bring structure" to the way rapes are investigated. "It's a good opportunity to evaluate our practices."
He said he would "evaluate the leadership and officers assigned to the unit" and added, "We are going to try to do our job better," referring to how rapes are categorized and resolved.
He also said the story points to a public relations need to build "confidence that reports are taken seriously." If that is not happening, he said, "we need to shake ourselves hard."
Earlier, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued this statement on The Sun investigation:
“I am deeply troubled to learn about the high number of unfounded rape complaints and the decline in reported rapes over the past decade. The data shows the critical need to immediately address the issue with a comprehensive review of investigative practices and response. Sadly, rape is one of the most underreported crimes because women are often ashamed and afraid to confront their attackers. We need to do everything in our power to ensure victims of sexual assault feel safe reporting incidents to police. No victim should ever suffer in silence. The Police Department must examine their current practices and work with leading sexual assault experts to develop and implement new best practices that encourage victims to come forward. Accordingly, I have tasked the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to take a leadership role with the Sexual Assault Review Team (SART) to oversee the development and implementation of improved Police Department practices. Commissioner Bealefeld has assured me that the Department is conducting a full audit of unfounded complaints and an internal review of training and investigative practices.”