If the Baltimore Police Department wanted to change the culture of its sex crimes unit, why didn't it simply put a woman in charge ("Progress in reporting sex offenses," July 9)?

Putting more women on staff could do some good, but having a woman at the top would do even more. It would put a rapid end to the stupid jokes about how rape victims were "asking for it" and the rest of the idiotic things male investigators are apt to say.

If the police don't have a woman of high enough rank to take charge of the sex crimes unit, the question is why not? We have had women on the force for a long time now, and they are as hard-working, decent and courageous as any of their peers.

Have they had the same opportunities for advancement? If not, the department has been guilty of a grave injustice both to them and to the many Baltimore citizens who could have benefited from their involvement in investigations.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore