NYPD Special Victims Division Failing New Yorkers

Press Releases / February 18, 2020

Mayor De Blasio Must Take Responsibility

February 18, 2020 – In a city of 8.6 million residents and 60 million tourists a year, Mayor De Blasio must take responsibility for police response to sex crimes – from the treatment of victims to thoroughly investigating reports of sexual assault and rape.

A story published in the New York Times on February 17, 2020, highlights that neither of these police responsibilities were handled properly, leading to a rape suspect being released and attacking 3 additional women.

“The Mayor of this city owes the women of this city an apology,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women – New York. “Substandard police responses to sex crimes has happened on his watch.”

In January 2019, a class-action lawsuit brought by rape victims cited failure to properly investigate cases and return phone calls and an environment waiting for victims of “disdain, disbelief and disrespect.”

In 2018, the NYC Department of Investigation released a 165-page report into how the NYPD’s Special Victims Division (SVD) was failing to adequately address sex crimes, citing a severely understaffed division; too few officers with high-level investigative experience; insufficient training; and a failure to take acquaintance rape as seriously as stranger rape. While facilities have been upgraded, a new SVD center has been built, and hiring is up, the division has not fully implemented the DOI recommendations.

Victims and advocates continue to report interactions with police that vary widely from case to case. A survey conducted by Women’s Justice NOW of service providers that collectively serve more than 5,500 survivors annually found that only 19% of organizations reported that “most reports were treated seriously and investigated vigorously” and 71% agreed “survivors felt disrespected, ignored, or not taken seriously by the police.”

“It’s past due time for Mayor De Blasio to publicly address the problems within the NYPD and commit to taking immediate action to improve the division and restore the public’s trust,” Ossorio said. “His legacy rests on this issue.”

NOW-NYC ignites change for the women and girls of New York. We advance laws, promote women in politics, fight for reproductive justice, challenge discrimination and violence against women, and act NOW.

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Press Contact: 212-627-9895 or shannon@nownyc.org