The U.S. Justice Department released a 167-page bombshell of a report August 10 on the Baltimore Police Department.
Although the report was released in response to the controversy surrounding the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, buried at the bottom of the report was a disturbing find: Officers with the Baltimore Police Department often mishandle or dismiss sexual assault complaints.
According to the Justice Department’s findings, detectives frequently neglected to interview suspects or send DNA for analysis. In a four-year period between 2010 and 2014, just 15 percent of adult sexual assault rape kits were tested.
Even more troubling is that the “gender bias” of police officers was a major factor in officers choosing not to properly investigate sexual assaults.
Officers are accused of asking women questions like, “Why are you messing up that guy’s life?”
In 2015, 17 percent of sexual assault reports concluded with an arrest. More than half of the claims are still considered open cases.
The authors of the report said the data collected by the Justice Department “suggests that BPD is keeping the majority of its rape cases in an ‘open’ status, thus drastically reducing the rate of its rape cases closed as ‘unfounded,’ and creating the illusion of having made meaningful reforms to its procedures for identifying and classifying sexual assault.”
One of the prosecutors who was supposed to handle a particular rape case sent an email to the investigating officer, noting that “I am not excited about charging it. This victim seems like a conniving little whore.”
What did the officer say in response?
“Lmao! I feel the same.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said recently that Baltimore isn’t the only city plagued with gender bias when it comes to sexual assault investigations.
She said police officers too often judge women for being drunk or for wearing short shorts or busty tops.
Just because police aren’t properly investigating sexual assaults doesn’t mean that sexual assaults are not happening across the country.
The Department of Justice says one out of every five women has reported being raped. Over a five-year period from 2009-2014, 1,000 police officers were fired from the job for sexual assault and misconduct, according to the Associated Press. That number is a conservative estimate, because nine states declined to release data to the news agency.
Shanlon Wu, a Washington D.C. attorney and partner at Wu, Grohovsky and Whipple who used to prosecute sex crimes, said officers have to set aside their ideas of stereotypes to be effective sexual assault investigators.
He suggests that police officers should try to befriend people who don’t look like them to gain understanding of race, gender and cultural differences.