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Governor Cuomo Announces Initiative to Target Intimate Partner Violence and Improve Services for Victims in Ulster County

Nearly $285,000 Awarded to Ulster County District Attorney's Office, Probation Department and Kingston Police

Second State in the Nation to Implement Evidence-Based Strategy to Hold Offenders Accountable and Support Enhanced Safety of Victims

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced nearly $285,000 has been awarded to support the launch of a pilot initiative in the city of Kingston aimed at reducing domestic violence assaults and fatalities. The Kingston Police, Ulster County District Attorney's Office and the County Probation Department have been awarded funding that will support the implementation of the National Network for Safe Communities' Intimate Partner Violence Intervention. The collaborative initiative will engage the community, enhance enforcement to deter intimate partner violence, while also increasing access to services that can help victims recover and offenders change patterns of criminal behavior.

"By investing in the launch of this comprehensive safety initiative, New York remains committed to helping deliver the resources local officials and victim advocates need to keep residents safe," Governor Cuomo said. "As one of the first states in the nation to implement this strategic approach, this funding will help Ulster County fight against the scourge of domestic violence, hold offenders accountable, and keep the community safe."

"My mother was an advocate for victims of domestic violence in the 1970's, long before many of the protections we now have were put in place," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "That's why I'm particularly proud that we'releading the nation in our fight against domestic violence, holding offenders accountable and protecting victims. New York has aggressively been working to implement legislation and support services that will help keep all New Yorkers safe. The State's investment in this program will help to deter and reduce domestic violence among intimate partners in Ulster County."

With this initiative in Kingston and Ulster County, New York becomes the second state in the nation to implement the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention with support from the National Network. Funding allows the Kingston Police Department, Ulster County District Attorney's Office and the Ulster County Probation Department to dedicate personnel and overtime costs for implementation, and pay for training and technical assistance from the National Network, which is based at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Through this intervention strategy, law enforcement identifies domestic violence perpetrators and targets them for enhanced attention, services, enforcement and prosecution. At the same time, advocates engage with victims of intimate partner violence to ensure they are aware of every step of the process, have access to support and services, and are not exposed to further harm.

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York has expanded its commitment to protecting victims and survivors of domestic violence. Most recently, the Governor announced the passage of legislation to remove guns from domestic abusers, closing a loophole in state law by ensuring that all firearms, not just handguns, are surrendered by individuals convicted of domestic violence-related offenses. This legislation is a centerpiece of the Governor's 2018 Women's Agenda.

Intimate Partner Violence Intervention is rooted in the National Network's focused deterrence strategy, which has proven effective in reducing gun and group violence in several communities that participate in the state's Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative. GIVE targets 17 counties and provides funding, training and technical assistance to 20 police departments and their county law enforcement partners.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services, which oversees GIVE, selected Kingston to pilot the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention strategy because the police department determined that a significant portion of its reported aggravated assaults stemmed from domestic violence incidents involving intimate partners.

Kingston Police and the District Attorney's Office identify individuals who are driving intimate partner violence, notify them of the legal consequences they could face if they continue the behavior, and respond to acts of intimate partner violence with enhanced, coordinated attention. There is also a parallel notification process that engages victims, educates them about the process, and helps ensure their support and protection. The Ulster County Crime Victim Assistance Program and Family of Woodstock are key partners in this work.

The Intimate Partner Violence Intervention structure also allows law enforcement to intervene early, when an offender has committed a low-level offense and deterrence can be most effective. Intimate partner violence, which disproportionately affects women, often escalates and can be deadly. In 2016, three-quarters of the 78 intimate partner homicide victims in New York State were women, and that percentage has remained consistent even as the number of intimate partner homicides in the state has fluctuated from year to year.

Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, "Through our work with the National Network as part of GIVE, we know focused deterrence works to reduce gun violence. I commend District Attorney Holley Carnright for his leadership and commitment to this pilot, which aims to utilize this effective strategy to reduce intimate partner assaults and fatalities."

Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said, "In Ulster County, we are quite good at investigating intimate partner violence incidents and prosecuting offenders, but our considerable efforts to prevent this type of violence have met with limited success. This initiative allows us to focus on targeting offenders and changing their behavior while at the same time, further engaging victims so they know we are committed to protecting their safety and connecting them with additional help and services. I applaud the Governor's commitment to enhancing protections for domestic violence victims and the state's support of our work."

National Network for Safe Communities Director David Kennedy said, "Traditional approaches to targeting domestic violence expected victims to avoid patterns of abuse, physically remove themselves from abusive settings, and support often ineffective criminal justice responses. The Intimate Partner Violence Intervention emphasizes requiring abusers to stop the violence, shifting responsibility for victim safety from victims themselves to the criminal justice system and to the larger community, and ensuring victim safety regardless of how victims choose to engage - or disengage - with the criminal justice system and with potential abusers."

Ulster County Executive Michael P. Hein said, "Ulster County officials have done an outstanding job investigating crimes and helping victims connect with the resources and services they need to recover and heal. By incorporating this multi-prong initiative that has proven its effectiveness and will take our efforts to new heights, we can ensure residents will receive better service and protection than ever before. I thank Governor Cuomo for providing the funding needed to launch this strategic program, and for supporting our ongoing efforts to deter partner violence and keep this community safe."

City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said, "This program is a critical step forward for our community. I appreciate Governor Cuomo's commitment to protecting survivors of domestic violence and for providing us with the resources necessary to implement this ambitious and important initiative. A key component of this initiative will be the seamless collaboration between all of our partners. We are fortunate to have a strong working relationship with the District Attorney, Ulster County Probation Department, and Family of Woodstock, Inc. and I am confident that through this coordinated effort, our community members will be safer."

Kingston Police Chief Egidio F. Tinti said, "Our officers see first-hand the devastating impact intimate partner violence can have on its victims and the community at large. This strategy will help us identify and prosecute, to the fullest extent, the most dangerous offenders while sending the message to first time offenders that further abuse will be met with enhanced enforcement efforts. At the same time, we will be able to use this approach to better guide victims toward the services and safety."

Family of Woodstock Executive Director Michael Berg said, "Family of Woodstock is very pleased to be working with the DA, his staff and other partners to hold perpetrators more accountable for their violence. The more perpetrators are held accountable, the more likely they will not reoffend."

In 2016, the National Network for Safe Communities received the Herman Goldstein Award from the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing for the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention strategy. An evaluation of the initial implementation of the strategy in High Point, N.C., has reported significant declines in intimate partner homicides and reductions in proportions of arrests with injury to victims.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state's DNA databank in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state's Sex Offender Registry.