The police department has a new Special Victims office lower Manhattan as part of the agency’s new “survivor focused” approach to handling sex crime investigations.
Police offered a glimpse of the warm space on Centre St. near Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday.
“All of this was done with the survivor in mind,” said Deputy Chief Judith Harrison, Commanding Officer of the Special Victims Division. “We’re committed to improving the survivor’s experience at every stage of the investigation.”
Part of that includes more detectives and private interview rooms painted neutral beige and calming blue hues.
Childrens’ toys and books are stowed in cozy rooms where young victims can feel at ease.
Special Victims offices throughout the rest of the city are undergoing the same renovations, police brass said.
The revamps are part of a major 18-month overhaul of the unit that was ordered amid repeated complaints that many detectives there are inexperienced and insensitive and that not every sex crime is handled by the squad.
In March 2018, the city Department of Investigation blasted the NYPD Special Victims Division, claiming it woefully undermined sex crimes investigations because it was understaffed.
The report also criticized the department’s policy of not forwarding acquaintance and date rape cases to the unit.
As a result, all Special Victims detectives have received special empathy training and will be partnering with Safe Horizon to provide rape and sex assault victims with services and counseling.
Beginning Monday, Safe Horizon advocates will be at every Special Victims office to support victims through all the phases of the investigation, officials said.
“(All of these changes) show that we are deeply committed to doing everything and anything necessary to ensure that survivors feel the safety and support needed to come forward, bravely share their experiences and help the NYPD bring to justice those who have committed these horrific crimes,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill.