Baltimore City has had a rough few weeks, news-wise. Now it seems as though it’s Baltimore County’s turn.
Yesterday, Buzzfeed released an investigative report looking into Baltimore County’s high track record of rapes deemed to be false or baseless: “The Baltimore County Police Department is one of a number of law enforcement agencies nationwide with an alarming record of dismissing rape cases, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis of FBI statistics,” the site reports. Thirty-four percent of the rapes reported to Baltimore County police are deemed “unfounded” and their cases are subsequently closed–a rate far, far higher than national averages, and the highest in the nation for a department of its size. What this points to, experts claim, is a pervasive culture of disdain for sexual assault victims within the BCPD.
Here are some of the article’s more troubling findings:
- Police routinely did little to no detective work at all, labeling rape reports unfounded after cursory interviews with the victims.
- Detectives who are trained to handle sex crimes often never even met or spoke with the alleged victim, but instead dismissed the allegation simply after reviewing a case report made by a beat cop.
- The officers writing the reports often dismissed rape allegations because they believed the women did not fight back hard enough — or, as one police report put it, “did not resist to the best of her ability.” Even if a woman submits to sex against her will because she fears for her life, these reports indicate, her assailant hasn’t committed a crime and can walk away without so much as a police interrogation.
It makes for pretty bleak reading, particularly when it results in men who commit sexual assault face no consequences — and then re-offend. Or women who attempt to ward off assailants who choke, smother, and/or threaten to kill them, but whose cases are dismissed because detectives determined they didn’t fight back hard enough–whatever that means.
Read the whole thing, if you can stand to. The only silver lining: Hopefully a report this damning will lead to some real, substantial change.