NYPD under fire after stairwell rape

March 14, 2008 7:54:26 PM PDT
Could police in Brooklyn have prevented the rape of a woman in an apartment complex stairwell?That question is being asked Friday after the New York City Police Department admitted two cops who were supposed to patrol a building and claimed they had actually never did.

The woman was sexually assaulted at knife-point for more than a half hour. And the rapist is still on the loose.

Eyewitness News reporter Nina Pineda has more.

Police officers were visible all over the Van Dyke housing complex Friday night. Two of their own were taken off enforcement duty and face disciplinary action after the NYPD says the duo claimed they had performed a vertical patrol in one of the buildings, even though they had not.

They missed the man in the sketch raping a woman for more than a half hour.

"Anytime someone is violated at a magnitude, 40 minutes, when you have...cameras in that development, then you have to ask who is sleeping at the wheel," state senator Eric Adams said.

Adams has joined outraged residents of the complex who question how, with cameras inside, outside and in the stairwells feeding back snippets of surveillance, no one noticed the crime taking place.

"They got a camera right there, just before you get to the roof," one resident said. "How could they not catch her."

The NYPD says it has not established if any portion of the crime was caught on tape. But community leaders are demanding a reorganization of the personnel assigned to monitor the cameras in every public housing project.

"What are we doing with our technology?" Adams asked, "Is it just show and tell? Or are we really using technology to stop crimes, prevent crimes and apprehend the persons that are guilty?"

The technology is there, there are hundreds of working cameras and a monitoring system. But if no one is using it correctly and looking at it, it's useless.

The NYPD released the following statement on the attack:

"Only 7-second snippets of each of the 24 cameras in 23 separate buildings in the complex are fed into the monitoring room at any given time. Contrary to published accounts, it has not been established that any portion of the attack was fed into the monitoring room. However, it was established that two officers did not do a vertical patrol of the building when they claimed they had. They were taken off enforcement duties and face disciplinary actions. The rape was at the Van Dyke complex. We do not identify the building out of privacy of the victim."