NYPD officers from around the city converged Tuesday on police headquarters to link up with dozens of advocacy groups in an effort to fast track law enforcement’s ability to find help for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, elder abuse and sexual assault.
Close to 900 cops from all precincts met with representatives from 39 groups as part of the first ever NYPD Victim Advocate Fair to build bonds between the advocates and officers, said Susan A. Herman, deputy commissioner of collaborative policing.
For nearly eight hours officers and advocates met to focus on finding ways to assist victims from all walks of life.
At the table for the Arab-American Family Support Center, which has offices in Brooklyn and Queens, Danny Salim and Shagufta Shah spoke with a steady stream of officers, who took their business cards and printed material.
“Today I was able to make a lot of contacts,” Salim said.
Relationships with law enforcement are important, Salim said, because they can help to empower crime victims.
“We try to explain to victims they are not alone,” Salim said.
For officers who might not be familiar with the universe of victim advocacy groups in New York City, the fair was an eye opener.
“We try to make officers aware of all the resources for victims,” said Cpt. John Potkay who helped run the event.
Though some groups are headquartered in specific neighborhoods and cater primarily to specific ethnic communities, advocates said they could refer victims from anywhere in the city to the best places for help.
GEMS, an organization that helps victims of domestic human trafficking, had so many officers stop by its table that its printed material was depleted by early afternoon, said Julie Laurence, a representative. Human trafficking in the city is a phenomenon that victimizes girls ranging in age from 12 to 24, Laurence said.
Most trafficking victims are women of color, with 70 percent of them being African-American, said Jessica Trudeau, also from GEMS.