Last July, a lengthy investigation by The Baltimore Sun revealed that police in that city were ignoring rape claims and refusing to pass them on to investigators.
Before the newspaper's exhaustive investigation in June, reported rape cases in Baltimore were down by 15 percent for the year. But a headline in this morning's Baltimore Sun reads that reports of rapes in the city are actually up by 20 percent this year, a sharp increase since new police procedures were sparked by the Baltimore Sun investigation.
A similar investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000 revealed that the police department in that city "downgraded" rapes for nearly two decades, and secretly dumped thousands of cases of rape with hardly any investigation.
Tracy told Senators today that police departments in several big cities, including St. Louis, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Cleveland and New York are employing similar tactics "to sweep reports of rape under the rug."
Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, even though one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
The Women's Law Project and other groups helped uncover 681 cases that were misclassified by the Philadelphia Police Department, and 1,700 other cases that should have been investigated as other sex crimes. Today, the organization requested that the FBI do a nationwide audit to investigate what they see as discrepancy and bias in their data.
The hearing today was one of the last chaired by Specter before he leaves office at the end of the year.