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Jamaica-born man heads NYPD Special Victims Unit

Published:Friday | September 11, 2020 | 12:11 AMLester 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 this 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, not only as a police officer, but also as 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 victims did not feel well treated when they reached out for assistance.

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

King, who is also a forensic nurse, 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.

ACADEMIC JOURNEY

A graduate of Mount Alvernia Preparatory and Cornwall College, King migrated to New York shortly after graduating from the St James-based prestigious boys’ school in 1991 at the age of 16. He enrolled in Medgar Evers College, where he began studying business administration and biology. He switched when his father suggested that he should consider enrolling in the emergency medical technician programme, a decision that would 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 NYPD 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.

King also worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) bombing unit and was involved in the Chelsea bombing investigation. He later became the number two person in the counterterrorism task force working with the FBI.

In this capacity, he was in charge of counterterrorism in New York, Canada, the entire continent of Africa, and all of 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 the people with whom he went to school.

Regarding the 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 for his new position by Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who said that if the NYPD did not have someone like King, they 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 make him the ideal candidate to head the unit,” said Miller.