A New York police captain is under fire after suggesting that some rapes are not as serious at others.

Captain Peter Rose, head of the NYPD's 94th Precinct, first made his comments to a DNAinfo New York reporter about an increase in sex attacks in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighbourhood.

"Every rape should be investigated," Rose told the news site. "I wish we could do more."

There were 13 attempted rapes and rapes reported in the precinct in 2016, up from eight in 2015, according to police crime statistics. Ten of those cases remained unsolved, DNAinfo reported.


Rose seemingly tried to downplay the increase.

"It really becomes a balancing act for the investigators. Some of them were Tinder, some of them were hookup sites, some of theme were actually co-workers," Rose told DNAinfo.

"It's not a trend that we're too worried about because out of 13 (rapes and attempted rapes reported), only two were true stranger rapes. If there's a true stranger rape, a random guy picks up a stranger off the street, those are the troubling ones. That person has, like, no moral standards."

Rose elaborated on his perceived difference of those cases at a community council meeting last Thursday, according to the news site.

"They're not total-abomination rapes where strangers are being dragged off the streets," Rose said at the meeting, referring to rape cases in which the victim may have known the perpetrator, according to the news site.

After the article was published on Friday and word of Rose's comments spread online, thousands reacted in outrage and anger.

"Wtf," one Twitter user said. "No NYPD rape is always rape. There are no degrees of rape. And no always means no. No matter what."

"Very disturbing comments by @NYPD94Pct," tweeted another. "Please educate yourself, Peter Rose."

New York city hall immediately distanced itself from Rose's comments in a statement, saying they did not represent the views of Mayor Bill de Blasio, his administration or the NYPD.

"Rape is rape, in New York City and everywhere else," de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said. "The crime merits no moral qualification and does not involve shades of criminality or degrees of danger. In New York City, rape is aggressively investigated and prosecuted blind to the nature of the underlying relationship, and with an absolute focus on obtaining justice for the survivor and safety for our neighbourhoods."

The NYPD released a statement walking back Rose's comments.

"Captain Rose's comments did not properly explain the complexity of issues involved with investigating rape complaints," NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said, adding that all reported cases are "thoroughly investigated" by the department. "All complaints of rape and other types of sexual crimes are taken seriously whether they are committed by domestic partners, acquaintances, or strangers."

Davis noted that the department had conducted several public campaigns in recent years to encourage people to report sexual assault crimes.

"Due to the anonymous and random nature of rapes committed by strangers, detectives often face greater challenges in these types of crimes," Davis said. "Regardless, all sexual offenses are taken seriously."

The department did not respond today to questions about whether Rose would face any discipline or training, or to a request to interview the captain.

Though reports of sexual violence in the US have fallen by more than half since 1993, an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes, according to statistics from the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, a nonprofit that advocates for survivors of sex crimes.

About one of every six women in the US - and about one in 33 men - has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, the group said.

Contrary to Rose's sentiments, the group notes that seven out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. That figure jumps even higher when the victim is a juvenile: For 93 per cent of child and teen victims of sexual abuse, the perpetrator was an acquaintance or family member.