Eight months after the Voice‘s NYPD Tapes series began revealing widespread manipulation of crime statistics — including the downgrading of rape complaints that in at least one case allowed a predator to continue his assaults — a commission appointed by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has rolled out six recommendations that would significantly alter the way the NYPD investigates sex crimes.
The most far-reaching proposal, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, would require detectives from the five Special Victims Squads to investigate all rape complaints. Currently, patrol officers are often the first cops to respond to a sex-crime complaint.
The cases often then go to a precinct detective squad, before winding up with the Special Victims Squads, which (as in Law & Order: SVU) contain detectives specifically trained to handle sex crimes.
Such a move by Kelly would require a significant expansion of those squads to handle such a sharply increased caseload. His spokesman told the Journal that Kelly has agreed to implement the recommendations.
Rape crisis counselors have alleged that police were either downgrading or refusing to take rape complaints and were also being insensitive to victims of sex crimes.
The Voice reported several such cases, including that of Debbie Nathan, who was sexually assaulted in an upper Manhattan park. Police classified the attack as a misdemeanor.
The Voice also reported on how a sexual predator was allowed to continue a spree of attacks because police classified his crimes as misdemeanors.
An NYPD audit this year found just 19 misclassified sex crimes out of 1,922, the Journal reported. But advocates insisted earlier this year that the problem was more widespread.
Among the other recommendations to be adopted by Kelly:
* SVS detectives should interview victims in hospitals.
* Training in handling sex crime complaints should be improved.
* Kelly should meet regularly with victims’ advocates.
For the year, rapes are up by 16 percent. Part of that rise is undoubtedly due to the NYPD stopping at least part of its manipulation of statistics in light of the Voice stories.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 23, 2010