New York Post
By Gabrielle Fonrouge
September 6, 2019
The NYPD unveiled its new Manhattan facility for its Special Victims Division on Friday, along with renovated SVD units in Brooklyn and The Bronx.
“Victim-centered facility upgrades” also are underway in Queens and Staten Island and will be finished by the end of the year, officials said.
Deputy Chief Judith Harrison, commanding officer of the SVD, said her team’s mission is to employ a “victim-centered approach” in everything it does.
“Traditional police facilities can often look intimidating. Over the past year, the department has undertaken major renovations,” Harrison said.
“You see the furniture, you see colors that were picked out … you see the decor, the aesthetic — all of this was done with the survivor in mind,” she said.
The facility upgrades include child-friendly waiting rooms, a designated interview room, renovated work-spaces for investigators, comfortable furniture and aesthetic improvements such as art, plants, welcoming signage and new paint with a calming blue color.
“The design of the space makes an enormous difference, the right color paint, clean and comfortable furniture, a welcoming environment — all of those things can create a space where the healing process can actually begin right away,” said Liz Roberts, the deputy CEO of the non-profit Safe Horizon, which will have on-site advocates at the Manhattan facility.
“It will make a huge difference to survivors,” Roberts said of the changes.
They come after a scathing city Department of Investigation report on the SVD in March 2018 that lambasted the unit as being woefully understaffed and ill-prepared to handle the crimes they’re in charge of investigating.
Since April 2018, the NYPD has increased staffing by 59 investigators, to 123, and now has a total of 316 workers in the entire department.
Still, for some advocates such as Jane Manning, director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project, that’s just not enough people.
“Five hundred and fifty experienced detectives would be much better equipped to handle the approximately 15,000 sex crimes that are reported in New York City every year,” Manning said.
When asked about staffing, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the department will review each facility and add more investigators as needed.