NYPD Special Victims Unit Struggles To Arrest Rape Suspects: Study

NEW YORK CITY — NYPD special victims detectives struggle to interview and arrest rape suspects, even after they’re identified in the vast majority of cases, according to a new study.

Just 6 percent of 150 sexual assault cases over a two-year period randomly reviewed by independent auditors were closed by arrest, a study released Friday found.

The 75-page assessment of the NYPD’s Special Victims Division by Research Triangle Institute International noted that investigators successfully interviewed 93 percent of sexual assault victims, and identified suspects in 82 percent of cases.

Find out what’s happening in New York Citywith free, real-time updates from Patch.

But they still had significant troubles when their focus turned on suspects. Detectives only managed to conduct interviews with 28 percent of identified suspects, and, in those, auditors failed to find overarching strategies or proper recordings, the study states.

“What was observed is that interviews contained in the report lacked details, key detective questions, and appropriate documentation,” the report states.

Find out what’s happening in New York Citywith free, real-time updates from Patch.

“We recommend that the NYPD assess this aspect of sexual assault investigations and attempt to determine whether there are any actions or processes that are deterring or preventing personnel from conducting suspect interviews,” the report states.

NYPD officials said in an accompanying report that they’d create a “forward-looking plan” for the Special Victims Division.

Part of their plan includes a review on how to manage crime scenes and conduct suspect interviews, which will be completed by the beginning of 2023.

“While there is much that SVD does well, the NYPD is always seeking to improve its operations as it relates to sensitive cases and supporting sexual assault survivors,” the accompanying report states.

The special victims unit has come under scrutiny and harsh criticism in the past.

The division’s former commander in November sued former NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea over accusations that Shea torpedoed his career in retaliation for speaking out about the department’s failure to adequately investigate sex crimes, court records show.

“Serious and pervasive flaws” impacted the unit, according to the lawsuit.

Together with a damning report on the division, the lawsuit painted a dire picture of how the NYPD handles sexual assault cases.

The RTI assessment is more supportive of NYPD practices, but still notes significant shortcomings, including among patrol officers who are the first point of contact for victims.

While sex crime investigators avoided using victim-blaming language, for example, patrol officers fell short on recognizing the impact sexual assault could have, the study found.

“Overall, officers appeared to have little understanding of how trauma can impact victims, and several interviewed had not heard of trauma-informed response, nor had they received any training in this area,” the report states.

Rti Final Report 2022 by Matt Troutman on Scribd

To request removal of your name from an arrest report, submit these required items to arrestreports@patch.com.

The rules of replying:

  • Be respectful. This is a space for friendly local discussions. No racist, discriminatory, vulgar or threatening language will be tolerated.
  • Be transparent. Use your real name, and back up your claims.
  • Keep it local and relevant. Make sure your replies stay on topic.
  • Review the Patch Community Guidelines.

Leave a Comment