New York, NY – New York Police Department (NYPD) officials have endorsed a New York City Council resolution which called on state legislators to pass a law making it illegal for police officers to have sex with suspects who are in custody.
The issue was raised after two former NYPD detectives were charged with sexually assaulting and raping a 19-year-old woman who was in their custody in September of 2017, the New York Post reported.
The woman was handcuffed and in custody when she alleged she was raped in a police van.
“I think it’s egregious that my colleague had to ask to have a resolution passed here because a woman was raped and violated in the custody of NYPD,” City Councilmember Debi Rose said at a public hearing.
“I’d like to know if NYPD is supporting the resolution … to include individuals in police custody as being categorically incapable of consenting to sexual conduct with a police officer,” Rose said.
NYPD legislative director Oleg Chernyavsky said the answer to that question was “Yes,” and that the proposed bill would make the law match already-existing NYPD policy.
“That has always been long standing department policy that this is completely unacceptable and wrong,” Chernyavsky told the New York Post.
“And the legislation being proposed essentially brings the law into alignment with what our policy has been,” he said.
However, despite good intentions, a resolution by the City Council does not make something a law.
City Councilmember Mark Treyger introduced legislation that would make sexual contact with a suspect in police custody a misdemeanor, the New York Post reported. That’s the strongest punishment available to city lawmakers.
“We need strong laws in place to ensure this never happens again,” Treyger told the New York Daily News. “There can be no meaningful consent when you’re in the custody of a law enforcement officer, and all law enforcement must be held to the same standard.”
The state assembly has already passed legislation that would make it a crime for officers to engage in sex with people in their custody, closing a loophole in a law that already applied to correction and probation officers, the New York Post reported.
A companion bill was introduced in the state senate in February.