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City Bill Would Require NYPD to Get Sensitivity Training for Rape Cases

By Gwynne Hogan | February 28, 2017 7:13pm
 The law comes as a reaction to controversial comments made by Greenpoint Captain Peter Rose.
The law comes as a reaction to controversial comments made by Greenpoint Captain Peter Rose.
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DNAinfo

NEW YORK CITY — A city council bill set to be introduced Wednesday would require all police officers to get sensitivity training when dealing with victims of sexual assault.

The bill drafted by Brooklyn Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and backed by councilwomen Helen Rosenthal and Vanessa Gibson, comes as a direct response to comments made by Greenpoint's precinct Commanding Officer Captain Peter Rose, which were first reported by DNAinfo.

In January, amidst an uptick in acquaintance rapes in Greenpoint, Rose said he wasn't "too concerned" about the increase because they weren't "total-abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets."

His comments triggered a conversation among city council representatives and they met with the head of the Special Victims Unit Michael Osgood to discuss them, according to Politico, which reported on the new legislation. Osgood told them that while detectives receive sensitivity training, regular officers do not.

“Though the remarks of Captain Peter Rose do not reflect the entire police force, our city’s response to survivors of sexual crimes have on some occasions been insensitive, perpetuates rape culture, and leads to survivors underreporting crimes,'' Councilwoman Cumbo said.

"My legislation will require sensitivity training for all NYPD officers to ensure that victims of gender-based crimes are not deterred from reporting a crime to law enforcement and increases accountability citywide."

The new bill would mandate that all police officers get sensitivity training to deal with gender-based street harassment and sexual assault cases during their training at the police academy. It would also require updates on that training every two years, according to Kristia Beaubrun, a spokeswoman for Laurie Cumbo.

Jane Manning — the director of advocacy at the National Organization For Women's New York City chapter who was critical of Rose's remarks and pushed for a meeting with NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill to press for department-wide changes — applauded the legislation, but said more reforms are still needed.

"We are delighted that the city council is taking this step and we commend the city council members who are leading this initiative," she said.

"[But] when you talk about sensitivity training, it sounds as if your just asking these officers to be kind," she said. "We're asking for more than that. We're asking them to do a better job of assessing the evidence in sex crimes cases."