By Carlotta Mohamed
City Councilman Rory Lancman is calling for an investigation after the NYPD declared a large percentage of rape cases in Queens as “unfounded,” according to a published report.
Lancman, who chairs the Council’s Committee on the Justice System and recently announced his intention to run for Queens district attorney, is demanding an investigation after The Appeal reported concerns that the Police Department is prematurely closing cases without a thorough investigation.
According to FBI data, nearly 19 percent of the 2,767 total reported rapes in New York City were considered “unfounded,” defined by the FBI as “false” or “baseless.” Research shows only 2 to 10 percent of reported rapes are actually false, The Appeal reported.
According to the report, 27 percent of rapes reported in Queens were deemed “unfounded” in 2015.
“It is alarming that the NYPD is declaring so many rape allegations in Queens as ‘unfounded,’ seemingly in many cases without doing a thorough investigation, at rates substantially higher than the rest of the city, and far beyond percentages reported across the country,” Lancman said. “This indifference to victims and the safety of the broader public demands investigation, as these statistics should have sent alarm bells ringing throughout law enforcement.”
In 2014, 1,160 cases assigned to the Special Victims Division were closed using the code “C-3 Uncooperative Complainant,” according to The Appeal. A total of 9,254 cases were closed due to an alleged lack of cooperation from the victim. By 2016, 1,551 cases were closed using the uncooperative complainant code.
In November, the NYPD announced changes to the Special Victims Division to uphold and strengthen the NYPD’s commitment to survivors of sexual assault. During the last seven months, the NYPD has made changes, including leadership, staffing, policy, training and facilities.
“The significant policy enhancements, facility improvements and restructuring within our Special Victims Division amplify our ability to respond effectively to survivors of all crimes, while continuing to conduct full and thorough investigations,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill.
The total overall staffing in SVD is now 281, which includes 230 police officers and detectives, as well as 51 other personnel including civilians, supervisors and executives, according to the NYPD. Additionally, every detective received state-of-the-art training to support survivors of sexual assault as they thoroughly investigate every case.
Deputy Chief Judith Harrison, who was appointed to lead the SVD as the new commanding officer, has been working in partnership with the victims’ advocacy groups and district attorneys.
“I will cultivate an environment where survivors of sexual assault know that we are committed to providing survivors with the justice they deserve,” said Harrison.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha