As a police officer, you'll learn very quickly that if you don't report a crime via the official
police report, that crime never occurred. From time to time you'll hear about police
departments under reporting crime…you have no idea.
Police officers can get into the habit of substituting their own criteria for what constitutes a
crime. Sex crimes are particularly susceptible to this ad hoc way of doing things. While
rape is a vastly under reported crime due to a number of reasons unique to the victims,
police officers do their share in keeping rape, and other sexual assaults, as under reported
Police officers don't operate in a vacuum. Police leadership and prosecutors aren't any
better. The first group loves to maintain low crime numbers, and the second group doesn't
need the extra work. A rapist only becomes of importance when he rapes too many, or he
rapes the wrong woman. Murder does get attention. A rapist will quickly get the attention
of the media and authorities, usually in that order, when he murders his victims following
the rapes or sexual assaults.
|...all victims are not the same
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You should note that the frustration expressed by this investigator is the same kind of frustration you'll be faced with on a daily basis. As a group,
police officers are the most closely scrutinized and criticized people on the planet. Scrutiny and criticism are not bad things; unless, they become
disruptive, excessive or simply unfounded. You'll soon learn that becoming a police officer will bring you plenty of disruptive, excessive and unfounded
scrutiny and criticism.
While there's absolutely nothing you can due to assuage those who simply dislike, or even hate, police officers for any number of reasons, it only takes a
few lazy, incompetent, or corrupt police officers to allow normally unfounded criticisms from hitting their marks from time to time.
While unfair and unfounded criticism will always be a part of your job, your best response is the same as Detective Baltz, the author of the above
e-mail. No... I'm not referring to the detective's criticism of me. I'm referring to this detective's obvious dedication to his/her job. In this case, it
involves the investigation of sex crimes, but the same dedication applies to every aspect of police work.
When you become a police officer, you'll probably be young, and you will be impressionable. Peer pressure, good or bad, is a tremendous force. If you
join a police department where the leadership is demanding high levels of performance through well managed policies and procedures (note that
Detective Baltz articulated some of those policies), supervisory and peer influences will be on a positive and parallel course. When those policies and
procedures deteriorate, you'll see police officers around you succumb to the lower expectations for performance.
Just remember that you'll always have the ability to recognize the proper way of doing things. While Detective Baltz is currently working in an
environment of high expectations, that environment could change. However, I have the feeling that the crowd for lower expectations would have... a hard
time dealing with Detective Baltz.
Imagine yourself as a detective investigating multiple rapes of street prostitutes by the same suspect. You send a flier to the sex offense units of police
departments in surrounding jurisdictions. Your flier describes the suspect, his vehicle, and his identical method used in each crime. A couple of days
later, you arrive at your office to find a message on your answering machine. The message is from a detective in a neighboring police department. After
the detective identifies himself, he states, "I got a woman here who was with your guy. Mine [this case] is unfounded, so your's probably are too."
It takes you a while, but you finally locate the prostitute to whom the seemingly clairvoyant detective referred. She's reluctant to discuss the rape and
sodomy committed against her since the other detective threatened to arrest her for making a false report. You finally convince her to describe her
incident with the suspect, and you're quickly convinced she had become your suspect's fifth victim. She gives you some additional information by
providing you with two numbers from the suspect's car license plate. There's more…two days following her release from the hospital, she saw the
suspect driving his car. She describes how she threw a brick at the suspect striking the roof of the car just above the driver's side of the windshield.
A few days later, a detective from your unit arrests a prostitute for soliciting him. During her post arrest interview, she's asked if she's ever been raped,
or assaulted, by a John. She replies, "Yea…just last night." As she describes the sexual assault on her, it quickly becomes evident to the detective that
she's a new victim in your investigation. The only difference between the assault on her and the others was the level of violence. She explains that she
realized the guy would have probably killed her if she resisted, so she complied totally with his demands. You can only imagine how this investigation
would have transpired if she would have ended up in the hospital, and she'd been interviewed by Detective Clairvoyant. The real bombshell comes when
she's ask to describe the suspect. She looks at the detective and simply says, "You already know who he is."
When the detective asks her why he should know the suspect, the victim replies, "He wrote down his stuff." In a quizzical tone, the detective asks,
"Who wrote down what stuff?" She replies, "The cop who stopped us." A little stunned, the detective pauses as others in the room crowd around the
victim. She goes on to explain that just seconds after she entered the suspect's car, and they pulled from the curb, a familiar flashing blue light
illuminated the interior of the car. "The cop knew what was going on," she said, "but neither of us would admit to anything. So, he [officer] just took
the guy's license and went back to his car." The amount of time the victim estimated the police officer was in his car, before returning the driver's
license to the suspect, indicated the police officer had recorded the license information.
After the patrol officer released them, the victim describes how the suspect drove across the city line, and into an industrial park, where he pulled a
knife and raped her. Now, everyone is stunned. What kind of a man would rape a woman right after being seen with her by a police officer? He had to
know the officer probably wrote down his name from the license. Of course, the license could be fake, and the car could have been recently stolen. What
would Detective Clairvoyant think about this bizarre string of events? Then again, Detective Clairvoyant would have never gotten this far in the
You set out to locate the car stop information you hope exists. You soon determine that the information is not in the station house, but the police officer
who was working the post, where the car stop allegedly occurred, is currently working. You locate the patrol officer who validates the car stop described
by the victim. The patrol officer reaches for his clip board and flips through the papers. He pulls one from the board and hands it to you. It's a
departmental car stop form listing the suspect's complete driver's license and vehicle registration information.
Now, you've really got something with which to work. You soon learn that all of the information the patrol officer recorded is real, and you answer the
question as to what kind of man would be so bold to commit such a crime under those circumstances. Your prime suspect is a convicted rapist who
recently finished a ten year prison sentence. It was obvious he hadn't done well in prison, for he'd served every day of his sentence with no parole or any
accumulated good time.
You begin tracking down your victims. Each one identifies the suspect from photo arrays. When you get to number five, she tells you the suspect is in
the photo array, but she refuses to identify him. She explains that Detective Clairvoyant made her write a statement saying she'd lied about the rape,
because the suspect refused to pay her. Her fear of the detective proves to be stronger than your assurances that she has nothing to fear.
You get your arrest and search and seizure warrants and off you go. You get the suspect, the knife, and the car. Aside from victim number five's two
numbers in the license plate being correct, you find a big dent in the roof of the car just above the driver's side of the windshield. There's other, more
ominous, evidence of the violence that had occurred inside that car…blood stains…a lot of blood stains. The right side of the back seat is covered in
blood. There's blood on the inside of the right rear passenger door, and on the roof of the car. You speculate that someone stepped from the car and
stood leaning over the top of the car as he or she bled. Your suspect admits to forcibly raping as many as thirty prostitutes over a short period of time.
He tells you he'd pick up a prostitute every couple of days. He denies killing anyone, and he won't give you an explanation for the blood stains.
As for this rapist, the only mistake he made was crossing that city line. Had he stayed in Detective Clairvoyant's jurisdiction, he would have never been
brought to justice.
...used to protect the incompetent
I suppose you know, by now, that you conducted a real investigation. The only thing imaginary was your detective status. In case there is a detective
somewhere named Clairvoyant, it should be noted that, in this investigation, the name is an alias used to protect the incompetent.
...sex offender registration
You hear a lot about sex offender registration. A lot of people feel really good about knowing where sex offenders live. Police departments and
governments promote the registrations, because they know it makes people feel good. There is an irony here…while police departments are under
reporting sex crimes, they're depending on the public to keep their eyes on the sex offenders.
Everyone knows, or should know, that most sex offenders, particularly the really dangerous ones, will re-offend. While police departments pretty much
ignore the rapes and sexual assaults of street prostitutes, these women provide the serial rapist with a comfort zone. While the serial rapist finds street
prostitutes to be easy prey and relatively risk free, depending upon time, place, and opportunity, any woman, regardless of social status, can, and will,
become his victim.
...rarely report these crimes
Prostitutes come in at the very lowest level on the victim scale. When a prostitute is the victim of a crime of violence, she's likely to receive little
attention from police. Prostitutes are often raped, or otherwise assaulted, but they rarely report these crimes to police. In fact, most are reported only
after the prostitutes are admitted to hospitals for emergency medical treatment, and police are notified by hospital personnel.
...fears she'll be prosecuted
The prostitute will usually cooperate with the police investigation; however, she will almost always lie about the initial contact between her and the
suspect. She'll report that she only accepted a ride from the suspect, or the suspect forced her into his car. Of course, the truth is that she entered the
suspect's car voluntarily either immediately before, or after, a verbal money for sex transaction was completed. She'll give one of these two versions to
police, because she fears she'll be prosecuted for soliciting prostitution. There is a second reason as well. Even though she regularly engages in
prostitution, she is ashamed of her conduct, and she believes her solicitation will justify the crime committed against her.
...a prostitute can't be raped
While she's wrong on the first reason, she's not too far off on the second one. The initial police interview can end even before it gets started. Far too
many police officers, as well as detectives supposedly trained to conduct sex crimes' investigations, believe a prostitute can't be raped. Whenever a
victim prostitute utters one of those obvious lies to an inexperienced, incompetent, or biased investigator, the quality of the interview deteriorates
rapidly. A good investigator will calmly explain, to the victim, the importance of her total truthfulness. The poor investigator will seize on that first,
universal lie to humiliate the victim with her obvious act of solicitation. The victim will immediately become defensive, and her cooperation will
...paid to do a job
When you begin your police career, just remember that you're being paid to do a job. You can't do that job if you classify victims in order of
importance. You will, for certain, come under pressure at some point to downgrade or ignore certain types of crime. The pressure can be overt, or it can
be subtle. When it comes to sex crimes, the victim classification phenomenon is pervasive, and it should be immediately obvious to you. If you take
your police career seriously, you'll go against the flow, and you'll treat every victim as a…victim.
|...hard time dealing with Detective Baltz
While you might view the comments in the following e-mail from this sex crimes investigator as criticism of views expressed by me – and you certainly
could – I didn't take the comments in that context.
Hello Lt. Baker,
I visited your web site careerpoliceofficer.com and found it extremely detailed and thorough. However, I hope you consider revising one very
important part of the "Police and Victims" section. I am a Sex Crimes Detective at a major metropolitan police department, and only handle
sex crimes specific cases of both children and adults. We have 17 detectives in our unit on two shifts. The section of your site I have an
objection to is the following:
"While rape is a vastly under reported crime due to a number of reasons unique to the victims, police officers do their share in keeping rape,
and other sexual assaults, as under reported crimes.
Police officers don't operate in a vacuum. Police leadership and
prosecutors aren't any better. The first group loves to maintain low crime numbers, and the second group doesn't need the extra work. A
rapist only becomes of importance when he rapes too many, or he rapes the wrong woman."
It may have been like this in Baltimore, but it certainly is NOT like that here. We have absolutely no option in whether to take a report, even if
there is little evidence to support a claim of sexual assault. No matter what the victim is saying, it is documented and reported. It is then up to
a detective to investigate and determine if prosecution is appropriate. We have several checks and balances in place to ensure accurate
investigation and fair prosecutorial determinations. I could NOT BELIEVE the part of your narrative that says "A rapist only becomes of
importance when he rapes too many or rapes the wrong woman." Are you kidding me??? That is a huge slap in the face of competent sex
crimes investigators who pour 100 percent of their time and effort into getting EVERY rapist locked up. I prosecuted several cases last year
where the victim was a known prostitute or had a criminal history of prostitution. YES, we do prosecute men who rape prostitutes. Those
cases do present some complications in front of a jury, but it can be done and IS being done.
PLEASE don't give people the impression that cops don't care about rape victims or that we don't take reports if we don't believe a victim!
This is absolutely not the case in our unit, where every day I deal with rape and sexual assault.
While rape is a unique crime, it is totally similar to other crimes as to its relationship to its victim. In the eyes of society,
all victims are not the same. Sure…politicians, top cops, and everybody else in positions of authority and responsibility will
deny this reality until their last breath. Think about this. How many times have you seen a prosecutor spending vast
amounts of time and resources prosecuting a Date Rape? I love that term…another creation from the dictionary of political
correctness. It's amazing how date rape seems to be most prevalent among people in the higher levels of the socioeconomic
scale. Oh, well…what do I know?
Here's what I do know. There are a lot of serial rapists running around raping at will with little being done to apprehend
them. As long as these rapists attack and brutalize, or even murder, the right women, they have little to fear. When the
rapist murders, he does get some attention since governments are so preoccupied with their murder rates. But, as long as
he doesn't make a habit of it, he can return to his serial raping without too much worry.