NEW YORK (PIX11) — The Justice Department launched a probe into possible gender-biased policing from the NYPD’s Special Victims Division, officials announced Thursday.

The investigation will dive into the SVD’s policies, procedures and training. DOJ investigators will also look at how the SVD interacts with survivors and witnesses. Their probe was launched after the DOJ learned “concerning information” dating back years, United States Attorney Breon Peace said.

“Our review is intended to ensure that, going forward, survivors of sexual assault in New York City receive fair and just treatment in the criminal justice system, and as a result, those who engage in sexual violence are held accountable,” Peace said.

The SVD allegedly fails to conduct some basic investigative steps, officials said. Police with the division allegedly shame and abuse survivors during investigations. There was “significant justification” to launch a probe, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.

“Survivors of sexual assault should expect effective, trauma-informed and victim-centered investigations by police departments,” Clarke said.

The investigation comes after years of reports of deficient practices by the NYPD in its sex crimes probe and a 2019 lawsuit in which two women claimed that the NYPD’s Special Victims Division had mistreated them.

One woman alleged detectives shrugged off her report of being raped by someone she’d been involved with, logging it as a “dispute” instead of a sex crime. Another woman said her account of being kidnapped and gang-raped was grossly mishandled by a sex-crimes detective for months before she was told the case was “too complex” to investigate.

After the lawsuit and a leadership shakeup, the NYPD pledged to change its ways. But victims say the promised reforms haven’t arrived.

Last October, a woman who identified herself as Christine told a City Council hearing that detectives made fundamental mistakes in investigating her rape. She said they failed to interview witnesses or collect security camera footage from the bar where she’d been before the attack.

Instead, she said, they wanted to set up a “traumatizing controlled phone call with the man who raped me,” failed to test for date-rape drugs and closed the case twice without telling her.

Mayor Eric Adams, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and NYC Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix have pledged to cooperate with the investigation. Sewell said she’s committed to developing the SVD with the goal of the department serving as a national model.

“I believe any constructive review of our practices in the Special Victims Division will show that the NYPD has been evolving and improving in this area but we will be transparent and open to criticism as well as ideas in the process,” she said.

An NYPD spokesperson noted a number of recent changes in the department. In May, the NYPD received results from an independent review into how police investigate cases of sexual assault. Sewell directed the SVD to implement the recommendations from the review. She also appointed a new commanding officer.

A spokesperson for Adams confirmed the mayor’s office plans to take whatever steps are needed to fix problems in the department. The spokesperson said there’s “no higher priority” for police than making sure survivors of sexual assault get justice, care, support and treatment.

“This administration has already begun this process over the past six months, including appointing a new commanding officer for the division, and stands ready to work with our federal partners to ensure the Special Victims Division is worthy of the importance of its mission,” the mayoral spokesperson said.

Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the Department via email at or by calling 212-637-2746. Individuals can also report civil rights violations regarding this or other matters using the Civil Rights Division’s new reporting portal, available at, to the Eastern District of New York at, or to the Southern District of New York at