NOW-NYC Calls on Mayor De Blasio to Address the Women of New York City about NYPD’s Understaffed Special Victims Unit

Press Releases / March 27, 2018

DOI Report Reveals NYPD Fails Sex Crime Victims

March 27 – New York, NY – A report released today by the New York City Dept. of Investigations (DOI) documents failures in the New York Police Department’s handling of sexual assault investigations.  

“This bombshell report backs up what women’s rights advocates already know,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-NYC. “We have repeatedly taken these concerns directly to Police Commissioner O’Neill. Today’s findings are not a shock to anyone at One Police Plaza.”

The DOI investigation, documented in this 40-page report, finds that the NYPD’s Special Victims Division is severely understaffed, that officers with little or no investigative experience are routinely assigned to the unit, that training for investigators is insufficient, that their physical facilities are substandard, and that the investigation of sex offenses, including rape, is too often compromised as a result.  

NOW-NYC’s sister organization, Women’s Justice NOW, provides resources and expertise to rape victims as they navigate the criminal justice system. Led by Commissioner Mark Peters and Deputy Commissioner Lesley Brovner, the DOI has produced a thorough and meticulous investigation of the NYPD’s failure to effectively make sexual assault a priority.

“We work every day with sexual assault survivors who have been failed by the system,” said Jane Manning, Women’s Justice NOW’s Director of Advocacy.  “This report confirms what we see first hand: sexual assault is not treated as a high priority at the top levels of the NYPD, and sex crime victims and public safety suffer the consequences.”

As part of NOW-NYC and WJN’s work on behalf of sexual assault survivors, we have created best practices for police and prosecutors. Below is a summary of some of the steps our organizations have deemed critical to creating a law enforcement response to sex crimes that is a national leader.

  • Revamping of the NYPD Special Victims Unit to ensure that doing sex crimes work is a promotion, not a demotion, which strikes at the heart of making sex crimes a top priority. This includes a shift in attitude that engages survivors from a perspective that most reports of sexual assault are true.

  • Investment in significantly increasing the number of NYPD Special Victims Unit Detectives. With a caseload of over 90 cases a year, it is difficult if not impossible for detectives to thoroughly investigate and follow-up on every case.

  • Requirement that all NYPD SVU Detectives be experienced investigators and that the NYPD institute additional department-wide training in best practices for handling sexual assault reports, reducing implicit biases, and conducting trauma-informed forensic interviews.

“There are some great detectives in NYPD Special Victims, but there are far too few of them and every victim in New York City deserves the best. There’s still a long way to go before victims can have full confidence that those who are entrusted to protect the public from sexual predators are swiftly brought to justice and the victims of their crimes will be met with respect, compassion and urgency,” Ossorio said

For press inquiries call 212.627.9895 | jean@nownyc.org