The NYPD is taking sensitivity training to the next level — giving cops a handbook that explains how to properly treat crime victims.
“How we interact with victims and the survivors of crime is just as important as how we try to investigate crime in the first place,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Thursday at the release of “The 101: The NYPD and Victim Assistance” at Police Headquarters
“It’s about better internal policies and procedures, it’s about building stronger cases and it’s about making everything we do more effective, more efficient,” he said. “It’s also about simple human interaction and making sure victims have access to services.”
Martha Mendez ran into trouble when the NYPD and other agencies couldn’t figure out how to transport her wheelchair after a glass bus stop shattered on her in 2014.
“I was getting off the No. 7 bus which is close to where I live and I inadvertently hit a bus shelter,” she recalled at the event, “and as a result of doing that all these pieces of glass just fell on me and I was cut up.”
Emergency crews were called and suggested she go to a hospital, but none of them was able to take her chair.
“I asked them who is going to take care of my wheelchair and I couldn’t get an answer,” she said. “They just looked at each other.”
Later, she wrote a letter to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
The city came up with a solution — a wheelchair transport trailer, said Kleo King, a deputy commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
“It’s a trailer that attaches to an NYPD vehicle and if a person has to go to the hospital their chair can be put on the trailer and be taken to the hospital,” King said.
The following NYPD initiatives are also listed in the book:
- Crime victims assistance program, which places two victim advocates in each precinct, one that specializes in working with domestic violence victims.
- Child Trauma Response Teams, which are trained to help reduce the impact of family violence on children.
- Mental Health First Aid Training for civilians in traffic enforcement, communications and school safety in dealing with the mentally ill.
- Training for new homicide detectives on best practices for “communicating with families of homicide victims, common traumatic reactions, and vicarious trauma.”
Susan Herman, deputy commissioner for the Office of Collaborative Policing, said the book reflects the NYPD’s efforts to ensure that the department it doing whatever it can to help victims.
“We recognize that experiencing a crime can be a traumatic, disorienting, sometimes devastating moment in a person’s life,” she said, “and we’re committed to finding ways to mitigate the harms, improve the interactions between the police department and victims of crime and restore their sense of safety.”
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