NEW YORK – The new head of New York City's sex crimes unit is not only a veteran police investigator, but also a forensic nurse who has conducted the physical exams and evidence collection vital to solving such cases.
Deputy Inspector Michael King started Monday as commander of the NYPD's Special Victims Division, the same unit that put film producer Harvey Weinstein behind bars.
Along with meeting detectives and setting his vision for a victim-centered, open-minded approach to investigations, King spent part of his first few days on the job going to the hospital to assist doctors with rape kits.
“I don’t know of any other law enforcement officer anywhere in the country that has that background,” King said. “When we go to a hospital and a rape victim is being examined, a cop can’t even be in the room. So imagine a cop who actually knows how to do that."
The police department formally announced King's appointment to the high-profile post on Thursday. He replaces Judith Harrison, who became a Brooklyn borough commander this summer.
King, who has been with the New York Police Department for nearly 20 years, takes over a sex crimes unit that has gotten mixed reviews from victims, advocates and watchdogs in recent years.
In response to some of the criticism, private waiting and interview rooms were set up at police stations, and all investigators were trained in compassionate interview techniques, known as trauma-informed questioning.
King says he wants to carry that way of thinking to the front lines of the police department, advocating sensitivity training for patrol officers, who are often the first NYPD representatives victims see after calling 911.