Charges prompt calls for changes


A group of Baltimore youth leaders called for changes yesterday to city Police Department policy on interrogations in response to allegations that a detective raped a 16-year-old girl at a district police station this month.

Members of the group -- which they called the Youth Liberation Movement -- sought a written policy ensuring that female officers are present when female suspects are being interviewed, videotaping all interrogations, establishing an independent arm of the Civilian Review Board made of youths that would investigate allegations of police misconduct, and monthly meetings between youth leaders and Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm.

The group also called for the filing of charges against Detective William D. Welch, a 12-year police veteran who was suspended with pay in connection with the alleged rape, and the garnishment of his pay. It also wants a public apology from Paul M. Blair Jr., president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police union.

"With all of the cameras that pepper poor black neighborhoods all over the city, it is apparent that the city officials need to raise a few more -- not in poor black neighborhoods, but inside Baltimore City police stationhouses," said the Rev. Heber Brown III of Young Clergy for Social Change.

Interviews in district station houses are not routinely videotaped. Male officers who deal with female suspects often try to have female officers assist them, but there is no written policy, according to police.

Police spokesman Matt Jablow could not be reached for comment last night. Hamm said earlier that once an internal investigation is completed, the matter will be turned over to a grand jury.

The 16-year-old girl who was allegedly raped had been arrested about 10 a.m. on an illegal hacking charge and taken to the Southeastern District. A routine check revealed that she was wanted on a prostitution charge in Baltimore County, and she was transported to a county juvenile detention center about 1 p.m.

The girl complained about sexual contact with a detective, police said. Soon after, investigators from the city police internal affairs division and sex-offense unit began an inquiry, police said.

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