NYPD discussing sex crimes as City Council considers 4 bills

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The NYPD's top brass was at City Hall Monday talking about the department's response to sex crimes as the City Council considers four measures that would require the department to make changes.

One bill mandates that officers receive sensitivity training on how to deal with victims of gender-based harassment and assault, while another would require training on how to investigate sexual crimes.

Since 2010, the NYPD has increased the staff in its Special Victims Division by 47 percent. And this week, 20 additional officers were added to raise the total to 218 officers.

On Friday, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill unveiled a new outreach program asking sex assault victims to come forward, even if they're old allegations.

"It's very difficult to come forward," Deputy Police Commissioner Susan Herman said. "It's very hard to know you're going to relive every detail of the rape or the sexual assault. You have to believe it's worthwhile to come forward."

Police officials announced a new social media campaign, along with ads on buses and subways reaching out to victims.

The development comes after a spate of controversy at the special unit. The New York City Department of Investigations released a report recently criticizing the unit for not having enough detectives and for what it calls poor training.

The NYPD has seen a dramatic uptick in the number of rapes and sexual assaults in New York City.

"We consistently see, in rapes, when you look back in time for an entire year, we see 15 to 20 percent of the rapes reported to the NYPD did not occur in the year that they are reported," NYPD Crime Control Bureau Chief Demot Shea said.

In the first three months of this year, the NYPD has seen a 39 percent increase in the number of reported rapes and sexual assaults.

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