By Zolan Kano-Youngs
January 26, 2017
Even as murders dropped by 4.8% in New York City, the borough of Staten Island had 21 murders in 2016, the most since 2008. Nine were connected to domestic violence, according to the New York Police Department, another high for that time span.
The NYPD last year joined with Safe Horizon to form the Crime Victim Assistance Program throughout the city. The program places advocates in police precincts.
While the police investigate the abuser, the advocates help victims craft a plan, whether it is getting a restraining order, relocating to a new home or pursuing charges, according to Maureen Curtis, vice president of the program.
“They’re the expert in their lives, ” Ms. Curtis said of the victims. “They’re going to tell us their situation, and we’re going to talk to them about the option that’s best for them.”
After a surge in domestic-violence crimes in the first half of 2016, the NYPD directed officers to make more home visits to victims.
Officers made more than 11, 300 home visits to victims in 2016, compared with 8, 200 visits in 2015, according to Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre, the commanding officer of Staten Island.
Collaboration between law enforcement and advocacy agencies has helped provide support for victims even after their cases are investigated, said Tiana Stowers Pearson, who oversees domestic-violence initiatives for Community Health Action of Staten Island.
In 2014, Ms. Stowers Pearson worked with a teenager who witnessed domestic violence in his household. The police closed their investigation, but the teenager still experienced trauma, she said. A year later, he became the domestic abuser.
This time, Ms. Stowers Pearson said she and her team worked with the NYPD and provided counseling to the teenager. During the counseling, Ms. Pearson says she realized, “he not only witnessed abuse but experienced abuse throughout his life.” She said he completed the program and is now healthy and employed.