The city’s Department of Investigation said the NYPD needs to double its staff for the Special Victims Division, according to a new report, calling it woefully under-resourced.
The report, released Tuesday, comes as the police department has continued to report increases in reported rapes. As of March 18, there were 335 rapes reported since Jan. 1, compared to 253 for the same time period last year — a 32.4 percent increase.
“Victims of sexual assault deserve justice, with the full weight of law enforcement by their side,” DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said in a statement. “The neglect and understaffing of NYPD’s Special Victims Division are serious and deeply troubling and the failure to treat acquaintance rape as an equal priority is unacceptable. While DOI’s report details the shortcomings currently hindering SVD, it provides a critical roadmap for the future.”
According to the DOI’s report, the NYPD only employed 67 detectives in its adult sex crime units despite its 2017 caseload of more than 5,600 cases.
J. Peter Donald, a spokesman for the NYPD, disputed that claim in an email, saying there are 85 detectives working on adult sex crimes.
The DOI found that the NYPD acknowledged increasing workloads at the Special Victims Division in 2010 and again in 2011, but the department’s leadership did not increase the number of qualified investigators.
It also found that the division had other serious issues, including cramped or unsanitary squad locations, inefficient or outdated case software, and inadequate training for recruits (new recruits receive 40 hours of instruction over five days).
Donald called the report “an investigation in name only; it is inaccurate, misleading and does material damage to the relationships of trust the NYPD Special Victims Division (SVD) has worked hard to develop with survivors of sex crimes.”
According to Donald, the DOI did not interview several relevant department chiefs, including the chief of detectives, chief of strategic initiatives and deputy commissioner of management and budget.
Donald added that the SVD uses a “survivor-centered model of conducting its investigations,” including not pressuring victims to participate in a criminal investigation after making a report.
The DOI recommended the NYPD increase its staffing to meet the high caseload, including 21 more detectives in the Manhattan, 11 in the Bronx, 16 detectives in Queens, 21 more detectives in Brooklyn and four in the Staten Island.
The report also recommended a funding plan to renovate or relocate squad units so they would be more welcoming to victims, an increase in-house training and investment in a new case management system.