NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The City Council received new proposals to consider for the New York Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, less than a month after a Department of Investigation’s report said the NYPD’s sex crimes force was understaffed and under trained.
The Council’s Committees on Public Safety and Women held a joint hearing Monday with proposals on updating how the NYPD handles of sex crimes investigations, including changes aimed at improving the availability of proper training and resources.
At the end of March, the DOI released a report showing the NYPD Special Victims Division is using outdated case management software and inappropriate squad locations for victims. In 2017, the SVD reportedly had just 67 detectives overseeing 5,661 cases.
NYPD Chief Terence Monahan countered those claims by saying 20 officers added to the SVD last week brings the current active total to 238 across the city.
When discussing the issue, things got testy at City Hall as some of the NYPD’s top brass butted heads with council-members for hours.
The council introduced four new bills demanding the SVD do better when investigating sex crimes. The legislation would implement new training and staffing protocols.
“Your own internal memos show there’s a serious gap and serious need not only for new training or enhanced training but also more staffing and also your facilities,” Councilman Donovan Richards (D-31st) said.
The NYPD has claimed the report is partially inaccurate, and says it oppose the council’s proposals.
“No other large municipal police department’s sex crimes unit compares to that of the NYPD’s in terms of size, investigative scope, and most importantly expertise across multiple specialized fields,” Monahan said.
The DOI report also said the NYPD has prioritized “stranger rape” and high-profile cases over “acquaintance rape” and other adult sex crimes. This is in spite of assurances made by the NYPD Commissioner that all cases are treated equally.
Several initiatives were included in the legislation put before the council committees Monday:
* Trauma sensitivity training for all NYPD officers,
* Specialized training for SVD investigators working with victims of sexual violence,
* Use of evidence-based models to determine staffing levels for the SVD,
* A more modern digital and searchable case management system.
The NYPD did say there’s always room for improvement, and that officials will continue working with the city council, plus they will be reviewing the report and its recommendations over the next 90 days before releasing a formal response.