BY EMILY MAY
Last week 6,300 of you rallied and signed a petition on Change.org for the NYPD to have increased sensitivity surrounding the South Brooklyn sexual assault cases, and today we are proud to announce the NYPD listened.
On Thursday, October 8th – only a week after the petition began – the commanding officers of the NYPD’s 72nd and 78th Precincts held a meeting with members of Hollaback! and Safe Slope, convened by New York City Councilmember Brad Lander, to directly address Safe Slope’s open letter to the NYPD and the 6,300 people (that’s you!) who signed the petition demanding increased sensitivity. As a result of that meeting, we are proud to announce the NYPD has agreed to following improvements:
- Effective immediately, police officers will provide a “trigger warning” to community residents before showing them a graphic assault video . By giving the individuals the ability to opt out, the NYPD acknowledges the sensitive nature of viewing attack footage, especially for victims of sexual assault.
- Effective immediately, police officers will make women aware that they are being escorted home by the police before starting to follow them. This will help avoid confusion and fear that the individual following them home may be a potential attacker.
- Concerned community groups, including Safe Slope, Hollaback!, and others, will draft an updated safety pamphlet for NYPD’s consideration, which will include community resources and helpful tips on what community members can do to help keep themselves and others safe from sexual assault. If approved by NYPD leadership, this will be the first time the pamphlet has been updated since 1992.
- Lastly, the NYPD will review a proposal from Safe Slope to do sensitivity training at the police orientation, as well as to show an educational video to existing officers prior to their shifts. The purpose of the video is to provide officers with simple strategies to make their interactions with the community more sensitive and educational regarding sexual assault.
Clearly, there is still work to be done. But we couldn’t have made it this far without your support.
In addition to your efforts, our heartfelt thanks go to Safe Slope, The Line Campaign, Permanent Wave, the organizers of SlutWalk NYC, and Women in the Media and News for organizing with us to make the petition happen, and Councilmember Lander for setting up the meeting with the NYPD. Shelby Knox, Director of Community Organizing for Women’s Rights at Change.org said, “the coalition of activists that made this happen should be commended for using people power, online and offline, to improve police sensitivity surrounding sexual assault cases. Their work will serve as a blueprint on how residents can respectfully petition the NYPD — and it is my belief that the impact of their efforts will live on long after the South Brooklyn rapist has been caught.”
Keep using your voice to change the world, and remember to always…