Thu | Oct 22, 2020

Jamaican appointed new head of NYPD Special Victims Unit

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2020 | 11:36 AM
Michael King - Contributed photo

Lester Hinds, Gleaner Writer

Jamaican Michael King, a deputy inspector in the New York Police Department (NYPD), has been elevated to head the department’s Special Victims Unit (SVU).

As head of the specialised unit that deals with sex crimes, domestic violence and child abuse, King will oversee some 300 investigators.

He brings a unique background to his new position, as not only is he a police officer but also a forensic nurse.

According to the new unit chief, the SVU has been under a dark cloud for some time and he wants to change that.

He said that the unit was understaffed and that victims did not feel like they received proper treatment when they sought assistance.

“I want a customer service-oriented department, a department that shows empathy, compassion and objectivity,” he said.

King said that he wants his investigators to pick up the phone and instead of telling someone that they do not deal with their issue, that the investigators will listen and deal with the information objectively.

“Where it falls in our purview we will act expeditiously, understand how the victims need to be treated and act in a compassionate manner,” he said.

A graduate of Mount Alvernia Prep and Cornwall College, King migrated to New York shortly graduating from the St James prestigious boys' school in 1991 at the age of 16.

He enrolled at Medgar Evers College, where he began studying business administration and biology.

He later switched to the emergency medical technician programme, a decision that was to change his life.

“I did it and I liked it. So much so that I volunteered on ambulance services. I like it very much,” he said.

King received a scholarship that took him to Borough of Manhattan College in 1996.

Between 1996 and 2000, he trained others to become paramedics.

In 2000, he joined the New York Police Department as a beat cop while still pursuing his nursing studies.

He rose through the ranks and graduated as a nurse while being promoted to sergeant in the NYPD.

But King was to make his mark not only in the NYPD but also working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

He trained with the FBI bomb unit and was involved in the Chelsea bombing investigation.

He was later to become the No. 2 person in the counterterrorism task force working with the FBI.

In this capacity, he was in charge of counterterrorism in New York, Canada, Africa, and Western Europe.

King said that although he has been out of Jamaica for some 30 years, he still has a deep interest in the affairs of the country.

He said that he follows developments on the island and keeps in contact with many of his former schoolmates.

Regarding youth, his advice is to stay in school and get an education.

“That is how they will become a success in life,” he said.

King was recommended to his new position by Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who said that if the NYPD did not have someone like him, it would have to invent him.

“At the SVU, he can combine his experiences of helping people in trauma. His knowledge of science and investigation and his sense of justice makes him the ideal candidate to head the unit,” said Miller.

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