6-24-11: Responding to Sexual Assault in Baltimore
It’s been one year since The Baltimore Sun published an investigation into the number of rape cases that Baltimore city police consider “unfounded.” That means police find a report to be false or baseless, and decide that no crime had actually occurred. In 2009, Baltimore police determined more than 30 percent of all reports were unfounded — a higher rate than any other city in the country.
After Justin Fenton’s story in the Sun, Mayor Stephanie Rawling-Blake ordered an audit of sexual assaults in the city, which found that half of recent unfounded claims had been misclassified. Police instituted new procedures — including a policy that prohibits officers from refusing to take a sexual assault report on the street.
Now, a year later, we want to examine the effects of those policy changes – and whether there’s been a change of attitudes among officers responding to reports of sexual assaults.
Sheilah speaks with Heather Brantner, coordinator of Baltimore’s Sexual Assault Response Team, which is part of the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice. She also talks with Gail Reed, director of victim advocates at TurnAround, a domestic violence and sexual assault center in Baltimore.
TurnAround runs a 24-hour hotline for sexual assault victims — it can be reached at 443-279-0379.