A Manhattan woman was riding the escalator up from the A train platform at Fulton Street yesterday morning, listening to music through headphones and minding her own business, when she felt what she thought was a draft beneath her skirt. But that was no gentle subway breeze—the man behind her had lifted up her skirt to take a photograph.

Melissa [the subject's name has been changed], who works as a paralegal in lower Manhattan, tells us that she only found out what happened because two women who were behind the upskirter screamed. Yet as violating as that was, she says what happened next felt even worse: three police officers who responded to the incident didn't seem to give a shit.

Melissa, 30, was so upset about how her complaint was handled, she started a website detailing her encounter with the NYPD transit police, calling it a "comedy of errors." The two women who witnessed the incident stayed with her and tried to help—and one believes the same man took an upskirt photo of her, too:

The woman standing next to me, Susan* [1] was incredibly upset because this had happened to her on April 13, 2015. At that time, the man had lifted up her jacket to take an upskirt picture. She even saw a picture of her own underwear on the screen of his phone. He got away, but she managed to get some blurry pictures of him on the platform...

The second woman went to the MTA booth and reported it to the MTA worker. The MTA worker verified if I wanted to call the police. I said yes and asked Susan to stay with me. Susan said she was absolutely staying and did not want this to happen to somebody else. The MTA worker called for officers. And then we waited. And waited some more, as we felt less and less confident that the NYPD actually cared that this had happened. About 15 minutes later, three officers showed up. The three officers were very nice but completely at a loss as to what to do.

I was expecting there to be a protocol or a game plan, but quickly discovered that there was no protocol in place. I kept waiting for a supervising officer or somebody who knew what to do to show up, but instead the three officers just kept asking each other “So what do we do now?” and made it clear that they did not know what to do next. Susan and I stood helplessly by as we waited for an action plan. I was experiencing wave after wave of different emotions and feeling worried about how this picture was in the wrong hands, possibly on the Internet, possibly circulating among other creeps.

One of the officers left to call command. They were not sure if we would have to go to the station. At one point it seemed that we could stay here and a supervisor would arrive. But then the officer returned and told us we were told we would have to go to the station. The officers asked us if we wanted to go to the station. I wanted to scream “YES, I WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO CATCH THIS GUY AND GET THAT PICTURE DELETED AND SCRUBBED AND MY DIGNITY BACK.”

They asked each other if they should canvas the area. I couldn’t even believe that this was a question they had to ask each other because this should have been the first thing they did, preferably immediately after it happened. One officer suggested that two of them go and one stay with us. The officer who had left to call the station said he didn’t want to go again. So he stayed with us, while the other two canvassed the station. They returned shaking their heads - he’s gone.

The officers did not seem to take this incident with any remote seriousness. They told us that that NYC was full of weirdos and creeps and that what “sucked” was that if they caught the guy, he would get locked up for a night and released the next day. Not really the best thing to tell two victims of a sexual assault.

I asked if there were surveillance cameras and couldn’t they look at the footage. One of the officers replied that the cameras aren’t running. Susan asked if they needed the pictures she had on her phone. They took a look but said it wasn’t helpful because it was just his back. They said they had a picture specialist they could bring in to take a look, but they failed to ask Susan to actually give them a copy of the picture.

The officers finally decided to take Melissa and Susan to Canal Street to file a report... only the uptown A/C wasn't running. Melissa offered her office conference room as a place where they could take down the report. ("An officer asked, 'Is there a restaurant there?' The idea was dropped.")

Then the cops debated what charges could be brought. They ultimately told Melissa they would file a report, but she should find them the next day (today), "If we saw the man who had photographed me, we should point him out to them and they would arrest him and that would take care of it. I brought up the point that if they were in uniform, standing around the station, he would likely not show up. One of the officers said that was a good point. I did not say this but I also did not like the idea of having to victimize myself and essentially use myself as bait to catch my predator."

Melissa didn't hear from the police officers all day. This morning, she saw one of the officers and his partner at the Fulton Street station and said she never got a call: "He was incredulous and said he had told his partner to call me. Nonetheless, he had my report number and gave it to me. He explained that now that there’s a report number if I see the perpetrator again or if it happens again, I can go to an officer and give him my report number and they will arrest him. He also said that they tried to pull surveillance footage but then said he didn’t know much about that because it was with his supervisors (with a bit of an eye roll)."

Taking upksirt pictures is illegal and definitely something cops consider "unlawful surveillance." (And those who do take upskirt photos often have a cache of them.) The MTA's website urging riders to report sexual misconduct explains:

Harassment of someone because of that person's sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation is prohibited on the MTA bus, subway and commuter railroad network. Improper sexual conduct can take many forms and anyone can be a victim of it or witness it. It can include misconduct involving the actual or threatened use of physical contact or force, including rape, assault, unwanted touching, and other forms of physical sexual misconduct. At other times, however, improper sexual conduct does not involve physical contact or force. Some examples of improper sexual conduct that does not include physical contact or force are verbal harassment, threats, intimidation, and peeping into or under a person's clothing.

While she emphasized that the officers were very nice, she found their lack of urgency shocking. Melissa said, "I would never have gotten [my report number] if I didn't follow up myself."