ShieldFormer New York City police officer Wilfredo Rosario was convicted yesterday of offering to destroy a summons he had issued to an 18 year old woman when she was in Riverside Park after hours if she would give him oral sex. Apparently this isn’t the first time he’s done this sort of thing and will go to trial soon on other sexual assault and rape charges.

The Daily News, reporting on the case, called him a “Renegade New York Cop who preyed on ladies” and the New York City Police Department fired him from the force immediately after his conviction.

Well maybe not so renegade. These sorts of sexual assault extortion and assault charges are not unknown to the NYPD. The Department’s view is that any large police force will have, unfortunately, a few bad apples and they take prompt action whenever one of their officers is found to have used the power of the badge to extort sex from women.

Swearing InBut as my students and I found last year, police departments do not include issues of sexual assault and extortion in their routine officer training. They get training on the constitutional limits on what they can do when they search, arrest and take suspects into custody, on racial profiling, excessive force, and proper use of weapons (pistols, tasers etc). But despite ample notice to the departments that some officers will abuse their authority and extort sex from female citizens, not one police department has implemented either policy or training informing their officers that this conduct violates the Constitution.

Here’s an excerpt from the students’ research:

• Police officers recently being trained in Maryland held a competition among the trainees to see how many of them could get pictures of women’s breasts in exchange for not writing them traffic tickets.

• My students were unable to find one police department that included issues of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in their training materials. And not one of the organizations that do back up to police departments, collecting or helping to develop training materials and personnel policies had a model policy on this issue.

• The Violence Against Women division of the Protecting Citizen’s Civil Rights Project of the International Association of Chiefs of Police have begun to explore the development of training policy on this issue. Their earlier work centered on training police officers on violence against women crimes, strengthening the commitment of law enforcement officers to respond to these crimes, and enhance the ability of communities to respond to victims. I was pleased to hear that they are taking the issue of sexual assault by police officers seriously.

•For more information documenting this problem, see Driving While Female: A National Problem in Police Misconduct

24 comments

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