The new leader of the Special Victims Division hopes to turn around the long-troubled unit by boosting morale and getting detectives to connect with survivors by treating them like family.
“The last thing I want is for a survivor to say, ‘The worst thing I did was called the cops,’” Inspector Carlos Ortiz said at Police Headquarters Friday afternoon.
“Not every case ends with total finality, but we want to be able to have that survivor leave that situation and say, ‘You know what, the police did everything they could.’”
Ortiz takes the reins of a unit, which is tasked with investigating adult rape and child abuse cases, that has long faced criticism from advocates and survivors about how the detectives handled cases and the treatment of those coming forward.
Ortiz thinks he can fix that with his survivor-centric approach.
“I always told my officers when you approach something, any case, it could be as simple as a car break-in, always look at it as if that’s your family member,” he said.
“That’s your mother. That’s your father. That’s your brother. That’s your sister… Approach that survivor as if that’s one of your family members, and how would you want your family member treated?”
The inspector believes his time as a domestic violence sergeant in The Bronx will allow him to jump right into understanding the caseload — but he said he will take cues from his unit as he gets settled in the new post.
Ortiz, who most recently worked as a Special Projects Coordinator for the Patrol Services Bureau after commanding the 115th Precinct in Queens, will be the third head of the unit since 2018.
The prior leader Deputy Inspector Michael King, who was lauded for his experience as a registered nurse specializing in forensics by police brass, was bounced from SVD earlier this year after 17 months in the post.
Advocates quickly soured on King claiming he lacked the managerial and investigatory skills to lead the unit.
His reassignment came months after an emotional hearing before the City Council in which survivors recalled numerous issues with how their cases were handled. Advocates have their complaints were part of systemic problems in the division.
Judith Harrison had been tapped for SVD in late 2018 after a scathing report from a watchdog found that severe understaffing led to investigations not being handled properly. Harrison, now an assistant chief and commander of Brooklyn North, led the division until July 2020.