NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Every NYPD officer may soon be required to have sensitivity training to better respond to the victims of sexual assault under a proposed City Council bill.
The NYPD trains its detectives on dealing with rape victims, but a new bill, which is being introduced Wednesday by Brooklyn Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, would require sensitivity training every two years for all NYPD officers to ensure victims will not be deterred from coming forward.
The legislation is a direct response to comments made by a Brooklyn precinct commander who said he wasn’t too concerned about an rise in sexual assaults in his Greenpoint neighborhood because most of the attacks weren’t random.
Capt. Peter Rose, of the 94th Precinct, was speaking at a community council meeting in early January when he made comments drawing a distinction between “true stranger rapes” and other kinds of rape. He later apologized for the comments.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women’s New York City Chapter, said such remarks cause victims to remain silent and complaints to be dismissed.
“You’re sitting there for hours and then you have someone who is hostile or sarcastic or unfeeling or opens an interview with, ‘So, how many times have you cheated on your husband?'” said Ossorio.
Ossorio hopes the retraining will improve communication between victims and police.
“It’s kind of a classic way to be done with a case, to just say the witness was uncooperative,” Ossorio said.
Her organization not only wants officers to be more sensitive, but do a better job at assessing the evidence in sex crime cases.
Last month, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said he considers all rapes equally intolerable and equally deserving of investigation, and said he is open to reopening unsolved date rape cases.