BALTIMORE — Just 48 hours into the investigation, it's too early to know if a man identifying himself as a Baltimore City police officer actually raped a woman, but City Councilman Zeke Cohen says he's encouraged by the police department's response.
"Less than 24 hours after the allegation was made, several dozen police cars were taped off as evidence,” said Cohen, “To me, that shows that there is a commitment under this commissioner to really follow up. We know that in the past, whether it's the DOJ report or just anecdotally from what I've heard, that this has not always been a great response from BPD when it comes to accusations of sexual assault."
In August of 2016, the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report on the department, and it raised serious questions about its response to rape allegations, including the interrogation of rape victims, a failure to request or to process rape kits in a timely fashion, and allowing more than half of its cases to remain open, often for years at a time.
With a consent decree to uphold, it's really no wonder that the department is pulling out all of the stops in this case.
"It is completely unacceptable for police officers to engage in illegal activity particularly during this time when we, as a city, are under an enormous amount of scrutiny,” said Cohen. “We know that we had a former mayor who participated in corruption, and so we, as public officials, all of our law enforcement, all of us need to absolutely not participate in anything that could further embarrass the city. Furthermore, it's just not okay for cops to break the law... period."
During the feds’ review of the department, it found less than 25 percent of its sexual assault cases ended with an arrest – a rate, which was roughly half of the national average.