Justice Department investigating NYPD Special Victims Division over concerns of ‘gender-biased policing’

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, NYPD commissioner to comply with probe

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The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has launched a civil pattern or practice investigation into the New York City Police Department’s Special Victims Division after receiving "concerning information" about the way it’s been handling sexual assault cases. 

The probe, which federal officials say New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell have pledged to cooperate with, will "assess whether the SVD engages in a pattern or practice of gender-biased policing." 

"Survivors of sexual assault should expect effective, trauma-informed and victim-centered investigations by police departments," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. "Based on information provided to the Justice Department, we find significant justification to investigate whether the NYPD’s Special Victims Division engages in a pattern or practice of gender-biased policing. 

The Justice Department says it has "received information alleging deficiencies at SVD 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.  

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A cyclist rides past a New York Police Department station in Times Square. 

A cyclist rides past a New York Police Department station in Times Square.  (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

"These deficiencies allegedly include failing to conduct basic investigative steps and instead shaming and abusing survivors and re-traumatizing them during investigations," it added. 

Max Young, a spokesperson for Mayor Adams, said in a statement to Fox News Digital that "there is no higher priority for law enforcement than ensuring that victims of sexual assault get the justice they deserve and the care, support, and treatment they need. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams' administration "stands ready to work with our federal partners to ensure the Special Victims Division is worthy of the importance of its mission," his spokesperson, Max Young, told Fox News Digital.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams' administration "stands ready to work with our federal partners to ensure the Special Victims Division is worthy of the importance of its mission," his spokesperson, Max Young, told Fox News Digital. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

"We welcome this review, will cooperate fully in this investigation, and will continue to take all steps necessary to ensure we fix problems that have been decades in the making," he also said. 

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A New York City police car is pictured in November 2021. The Justice Department says as part of its civil pattern or practice investigation, it will reach out to community groups and members of the public.

A New York City police car is pictured in November 2021. The Justice Department says as part of its civil pattern or practice investigation, it will reach out to community groups and members of the public. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

The investigation will focus on the "policies, procedures and training for SVD investigations of sexual assault crimes, including how SVD interacts with survivors and witnesses, collects evidence and completes investigations; any steps NYPD has taken to address deficiencies in its handling of sexual assault crimes; how SVD allocates staffing and other resources; and the services and support offered to survivors of sexual assault," according to the Justice Department. 

"As part of this investigation, the Justice Department officials will reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with SVD," it added.