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August 4, 2010

O'Malley says audits showed concern over rape stats, but apparent problems accelerated

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III have acted swiftly to try to fix apparent problems with how the city police department investigates rapes, with Bealefeld in particular apologizing and saying his focus on guns and shootings took his eye off the ball of what was going on in the agency's sex offense unit. Bealefeld has been commissioner since 2007, and before that was chief of detectives in 2006.

But whatever problems exist appear to have first surfaced in 2003, when people inside the police department voiced concerns and an audit was undertaken that found rapes had been miscounted. That audit didn't seem to take, as the number and percentage of cases deemed "unfounded" by detectives soared to the highest in the country, and more 911 calls began getting left on the street. Also, the agency's revised numbers aren't reflected in official FBI statistics.

I sought comment yesterday from Gov. Martin O'Malley, who was mayor from December 1999 until January 2007 and throughout his career in public office has made crime his top priority (and a top campaign plank). He lightly chastised the media last week for not reporting more enthusiastically about the city's crime declines, so I wanted to know whether - in light of The Sun's reporting on the handling of these cases - he had confidence in the 63 percent drop in rapes.

Spokesman Shaun Adamec wrote in an e-mail reply that "multiple audits during his time as mayor demonstrate his commitment to relentless follow-up and adjustment with regard to proper reporting and enforcement."

Why, then, did the problems appear to only get worse the in the years after the audit? The percentage of "unfounded" cases jumped from 12 percent in 2003 to 32 percent in 2004, and peaked at 37 percent in 2006. Meanwhile the percentage of 911 calls that did not generate a report jumped from 30 percent to 42 percent from 2003 to 2004, where it still hovers today. That's hundreds of 911 calls each year with no documentation. For about half of those non-reports, no reason was given by officers, and the tapes no longer exist to go back and review them.

Pressed further, Adamec responded: "The Governor supports the efforts of the City to address this concern. It is a concern brought to his attention as Mayor, which is why he ordered multiple audits and adjustments to protocols to address it."

He did not elaborate on what those adjustments to protocols were.

"Under the governor's leadership, with the dedication of law enforcement and cooperation of communities throughout Maryland, we've driven violent crime, property crime and total crime to their lowest rates ever recorded," Adamec said.

Posted by Justin Fenton at 9:57 AM | | Comments (2)
        

Comments

This "pretty boy" is shameless! Everytime I see him on TV or hear his voice on the radio I feel like I need a shower. He's "concerned about one this REELECTION! Wake up Maryland!!

THE LIGHT HAS FINALLY SHOWN THE LIES HE'S BEEN HIDING SINCE LEAVING BALTIMORE. HE'S PLANK WAS ON CRIME PREVENTION, BUT IT SEEM THAT THEY ONLY COUNTED PARTICULATER CRIMES. SO IN ACTUALLY CRIME WAS UP!!!! THIS IS JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HIS SMOKE AND MIRRORS ADMINSTRATION. I GLAD HE'S BEING EXPOSED!!!!

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.



Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.
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