The meeting was held on October 8, which was spurred by Safe Slope’s open letter, that both criticized and offered suggestions to how the 72 and 78 police precincts can better respond to the , resulted in the police agreeing to conduct sensitivity training with their officers.
The letter was released on September 28 by Safe Slope, a grassroots organization that provides services and resources to help make the streets safer within Park Slope, South Slope, Greenwood Heights and Windsor Terrace.
The letter voiced the group's concerns, while giving suggestions, about how police were reportedly telling women that they should not wear skirts, showing videos of attacks to women, escorting women home at night without telling them why, and not providing the public with consistent information about recent attacks.
“I congratulate Safe Slope and Hollaback! for raising extremely important issues in an open and effective way, and Deputy Inspectors Pintos and Argenziano for listening and responding,” said Councilmember Brad Lander, who called the meeting. “The two precincts have been working hard to catch the perpetrators of these crimes. With the steps agreed to at this meeting, they will deepen the NYPD’s partnership with the community in a way that furthers safety and respect now, and far into the future.”
Safe Slope’s call for increased sensitivity training was backed by the support of over 5,000 individuals and organizations like Hollaback!, The Line Campaign, Permanent Wave, SlutWalk NYC and Women in Media and News who signed a petition on Change.org over the past week.
Hollaback!, which is an international activist movement with a goal to end street harassment towards women and members of the LGBTQ community, was also present at the meeting.
Deputy Inspectors Raul Pintos, from the 72 Precinct, and John Argenziano from the 78 Precinct outlined what the NYPD has been doing to address the string of sexual attacks in the area. The commanding officers also agreed to the following improvements, which are all effective immediately:
- Police officers will provide a “trigger warning” to community residents before showing them a graphic assault video (being shown in an effort to identify the attackers). The police will give the individuals the ability to opt out, acknowledging the sensitive nature of viewing attack footage, especially for victims of sexual assault or others who may be triggered by watching violent actions on film.
- Police officers will make women aware that they are being escorted home before starting to follow them. This will help avoid confusion and fear that the individual following them home is not a potential attacker.
- Concerned community groups, including Safe Slope and Hollaback!, will draft an updated safety pamphlet for NYPD 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. The purpose of the updated pamphlet is to provide officers with sensitive and consistent educational messages to share with the public. Inspector Pintos will present the pamphlet through channels to NYPD leadership with the authority to approve materials for public distribution. If approved by NYPD leadership, this pamphlet will be made available to the public in both English and Spanish.
- The NYPD will similarly 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.
"Safe Slope is grateful that Deputy Inspectors Pintos and Argenziano are willing to listen to the community's concerns and needs regarding police response to sexual assault,” Jessica Silk said, a member of Safe Slope, which is planning to send a proposal for sensitivity training to the police within a week. “We are excited to collaborate with them to give them the necessary tools to train officers to be more sensitive around sexual assault.”
The Director of Organizing for Women’s Rights at Change.org, Shelby Knox, 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.”