Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation by the NYPD’s Special Victims Division to probe whether the embattled sex crimes unit was involved in a “pattern or practice” of gender-biased policing, it was announced Thursday.
Investigators will investigate reported systemic problems with the department in the country’s largest police force that have persisted for more than a decade, the Justice Department said in a news release.
“The department received information regarding alleged deficiencies in SVD, which have existed for more than a decade and deprive survivors and the public of the prompt, thorough and effective investigations needed to protect public safety,” officials said.
“These shortcomings allegedly include failing to perform basic investigative steps and instead embarrassing and abusing survivors and re-traumatizing them during investigations,” they added.
The investigation comes nearly a year after more than a dozen New York City sexual assault survivors wrote a letter to the DOJ urging it to investigate the embattled division.
“Because we wanted to protect others from the kind of harm we suffered and to seek justice for ourselves, we reported our attacks to the NYPD,” the letter, signed by 19 people, reads.
“We expected that the well-funded, technologically advanced police department in the country’s largest city would respond to our attacks with professionalism and with thorough, skillful, truth-seeking investigations,” the letter said.
“What we experienced was the opposite.”
Jane Manning, a former sex crimes prosecutor who helped organize the letter last year, told The Post on Thursday that the probe was a “victory” for sex crimes survivors.
“Today, the Justice Department is siding with equal protection for sexual assault survivors. This is a victory for survivors, for women and for fair justice. Above all, this is a victory for the brave survivors who have spoken out about their abysmal mistreatment by the NYPD,” she said.
The investigation is being conducted jointly by investigators from the Southern and Eastern counties of New York and the Special Litigation Division of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
“Sex crime victims deserve the same rigorous and impartial investigations into their cases that the NYPD accords to other categories of crimes,” Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, said in a statement.
“Over the past several months, we have received historical information from a variety of sources about how the Special Victims Division has been conducting its investigations for many years,” added Breon Peace, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but federal authorities said they had alerted Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Mayor Eric Adams, who pledged to cooperate in the investigation.
https://nypost.com/2022/06/30/feds-probing-nypd-special-victims-division-in-nyc-doj-says/ Feds are investigating NYPD Special Victims Division in NYC, DOJ says