Prosecutors in New York and Washington will examine allegations of officers “failing to conduct basic investigative steps and instead shaming and abusing survivors and re-traumatizing them during investigations,” according to a Justice Department news release. They will investigate the division’s policies, procedures and training, and evaluate interactions among officers, victims and witnesses.
The department had received allegations of deficiencies in the unit “that have persisted for more than a decade, depriving survivors and the public of the prompt, thorough and effective investigations needed to protect public safety,” the release said.The federal probe is another setback for the Police Department, which is already under consent decrees governing its stop-and-frisk and surveillance practices. The state attorney general has also sued to install a monitor to oversee changes in the way the department handles demonstrations after finding evidence of widespread abuse of protesters during the George Floyd protests in 2020.The announcement came 10 months after more than a dozen women wrote a letter to the Department of Justice calling for an investigation of the sex-crimes division. Many had spoken out for years about their experiences with investigators who they said lacked sensitivity, skill and time to properly investigate their cases, even after the #MeToo movement forced a cultural reckoning on rape.
Photographed for The New York Times, with words by Ashley Southall and Troy Closson.
N.Y.P.D.’s Handling of Sex Crimes to Be Investigated by Justice Dept.
A civil rights investigation will examine the Police Department’s special victims division, which has long faced troubling accusations from people who reported assaults.