Desdemona Meck was 22 when two men attempted to rape her in 2010.
She received a rape kit and went to special victims detectives to report the crime.
“The detective said to me that I really needed to be more careful and that she saw these kind of cases all the time and women needed to be more aware of the dangers they were facing,” Meck said.
Mack’s experience highlights problems identified in a damning report released in March by the NYPD Inspector General. It found the Department’s Special Victims Division was severely understaffed.
A 2010 report commissioned by the police found that some officers treat victims in an insensitive manner and are overly confrontational.
It also found that some officers refused to take reports from victims.
“When I left the station that day, I felt as though it was a lost cause, that it wasn’t worth my time,” Meck said.
“I would say 100 percent, people were falling through the cracks,” she said.
“We took a look at how we treat victims,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. “I’m proud of what we’ve done but I welcome the challenge to get better
Shea announced a sweeping overhaul of the special victims division at a time when reported sexual assaults are up 25 percent.
Deputy Chief Michael Osgood, the commanding officer, is out. During his eight-year tenure, Osgood lead the probe into rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
His replacement is a 21-year NYPD veteran, deputy chief Judith Harrison, known for her close ties to the community.
“You have to be empathetic, the way you ask questions. We don’t make the victim prove the crime happened. We go out, we aggressively investigate the crime,” said Harrison.
Harrison will oversee reforms in Special Victims, which will increase headcount by 44 investigators, repair and eventually replace dilapidated special victims facilities, separate child and adult case investigations, and increase special compassion training.
“You see people when they’re at their most vulnerable. You see people when they’ve been hurt. You have to be very, very careful with how you deal with these victims,” Harrison said.
Osgood’s ouster was met with mixed reaction from rape victims advocates, who saw him as an ally and innovator.
“There have been a lot of positive strides. There’s still a lot more than could be done with in this unit to make sure that victims are treated with the utmost respect and that these cases are investigated as thoroughly as possible,” said Meck.