Release Includes RTI Recommendations and NYPD Commitments
In its ongoing effort to better serve the people of New York City, the New York City Police Department announced the release of a commissioned report detailing best practices in our response and investigation of sexual assault cases. While there is much that its Special Victims Division (SVD) already does well, the NYPD is always seeking to improve its operations as it relates to sensitive cases and supporting sexual assault survivors.
With this in mind, in 2021 the NYPD partnered with the independent Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to provide a comprehensive assessment of the department’s approach to adult sexual assault cases. Working closely with advocates on all aspects of the review, this detailed assessment provides the NYPD with the information it needs to develop a forward-looking plan to improve its practices and continue to be a leader in investigating such crimes.
RTI’s assessment team was comprised of criminologists, prosecutors, survivor advocates, forensic scientists, and current and retired police personnel. RTI reviewed department policy and procedure, training, investigative response, and partnerships. They also interviewed dozens of NYPD employees and outside stakeholders, and analyzed 150 case files to better understand the department’s approach to adult sexual assault cases.
The NYPD appreciates the comprehensive and professional examination by RTI and its experts, and is fully committed to the report’s findings. Some of the report’s highlights include:
- Report Recommendation: Implement an agency-wide comprehensive sexual assault policy, starting from initial contact with the survivor through the investigative process and case resolution.
- NYPD Commitment: Create a guidebook providing uniformed and civilian members of the service with clear direction and expectations to establish a more consistent and standardized response to sexual assault. The document may include guidance on survivor advocacy, sexual assault crime-scene management, report documentation, 911 dispatch interactions with survivors, and more.
- Report Recommendation: Create and deliver and in-service sexual assault training for all NYPD personnel who have interactions with survivors of sexual assault.
- NYPD Commitment: Develop in-service training available to all members who may interact with a survivor of sexual assault, including civilian members such as 911 operators, hotline staff, and precinct reception personnel.
- Report Recommendation: Incorporate opportunities for cross-training with partner disciplines to improve communication and provide enhanced understanding of roles and response practices.
- NYPD Commitment: Increase cross-training with outside agencies, and enhance currently provided training for peer volunteer advocates across the city, including with the Crime Victims Treatment Center (CVTC), the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention program (SAVI), Bellevue Hospital volunteer advocacy group, Domestic & Other Violence Emergencies (DOVE), and the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Hospital Volunteer Program.
- Report Recommendation: Ensure consistent supervisory oversight of case assignment, investigative actions, and case statuses to guarantee equitable distribution of responsibilities and support feedback opportunities related to caseloads and work quality.
- NYPD Commitment: Undertake a bureau-by-bureau staffing assessment that will examine resource levels, roles and responsibilities, workloads, and opportunities to enhance efficiency. After the initial review, reassessments will be made regularly.
- Report Recommendation: Develop a standing working group with advocacy partners that includes SVD supervisors and detectives.
- NYPD Commitment: Regularly meet with advocacy partners to improve practices, enhance communication, and define roles and expectations. Further develop and deepen bonds between the NYPD and the advocacy community.
An executive summary outlining the report’s findings, recommendations, and NYPD commitments, as well as the full RTI report, is now available to the public here: