Last Monday, the Greenpoint Sexual Assault Task Force hosted Beyond #Metoo, a panel discussion and conversation with the NYPD, elected officials, and victim’s rights advocates to “discuss how the system does and does not work for rape and assault victims at the local level.” The even’t’s goal was “to empower all individuals to know the steps to pursuing justice and care for themselves or their friends and family, while also opening up an opportunity for honest feedback about how the system could work more effectively to serve victim’s needs.”
The panel drew a crowd of community members who filled the Wythe Hotel auditorium on North 11th Street, and featured 94th Precinct Captain Billy Glynn and Councilman Stephen Levin, as well as representatives from Safe Horizons, Wyckoff Hospital Victim’s Advocates, the NYPD Special Victims Department, Brooklyn Legal Services, and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.
The Greenpoint Sexual Assault Task Force was founded in the spring of 2016, after a sting of sexual assaults in Greenpoint that left some community members disheartened by the police response, and distrustful of law enforcement. Part of the program was to help facilitate a dialog between community members and the police. Of that process, Chief Maddrey of Patrol Brooklyn Borough North said, “the road is long, and we are just at the beginning.” He added that the community should expect more events like this one in the future.
Councilman Levin pointed out that it was necessary to make sure that rank and file police officers are trained to appropriately conduct interviews with victims of sexual assault, and also important that the Special Victims Department is fully funded. He called the under-resourced state of the SVD “a failing city wide of the Mayor and the City Council.”
But, the core of the night’s discussion focused on the process of reporting sexual assault to the NYPD; how to do it, and what happens when and if you do.
Here’s what we learned: There are 311 people working within the NYPD SVD everyday; executives at the NYPD have an open door policy; and precincts are open 24 hours. The department encourages victims of sexual assault or their friends or family to make a report because officers “have to know what’s going on” so they can protect the city. According to the NYPD, “it doesn’t matter how you report, but do report, we’ll take it from anyone and investigate it accordingly.”
In the aftermath of assault, the first step is to get to a safe place, and to get medical attention, but not to shower or change clothes, because the police will be interested in collecting evidence. If a victim comes to a hospital, a victim’s advocate will speak to them and make them aware of their rights and resources. Victims’ advocates will stand for victims not only in the hospital, but also in NYPD precinct houses and court rooms.
Your rights include a federal right to have a rape kit done. And, it is now required in New York State that hospitals keep rape kits for 20 years (as opposed to the old 30 day limit). Resources include an anonymous system of shelters in NYC for victims of sexual assault.
From a policy perspective, there are also new pieces of legislation surrounding sexual assault. For example, a new bill sponsored by council member Hellen Rosenthal would mandate victim-centric interview training for all SVD officers.
You can find out more about the Greenpoint Sexual Assault Task Force here.