The number of reported rapes in New York City has jumped 16 percent so far this year, says DNAInfo.com, a Manhattan news website. One reason is that the New York Police Department has tried to change its approach to sex crime victims. At one time they were viewed with skepticism by cops and discouraged from reporting the crimes. Decades ago, before there were Special Victims Units, much less hit television shows about them, women were often treated insensitively by cops and made to feel like “perps” rather then the survivors of a vicious crime.
It took years of criticism from women and victims’ advocacy groups before police and prosecutors established units to deal with the unique challenges sex crimes presented. Victims finally began to feel more comfortable in squad rooms telling their personal horror stories to investigators. They started to emerge from the crime closet. But in recent years, something began to slip. The old way of doing business seemed to seep back into the police world. Some blamed it on the police desire to keep crime statistics low, that cops were trying to downgrade crimes. Whatever the cause, sex crime victims were telling hospital staff and advocacy groups once again that they were feeling like “perps.” Then “there was an epiphany” among police brass, said Susan Xenarios of the St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Crime Victims Treatment Center, who credits police commissioner Raymond Kelly.