NYPD: Adding Victim Advocacy Personnel to Address Rising Domestic Crime Rates

The North Brooklyn Coalition Against Domestic Violence organized a candlelight vigil for victims of domestic violence in Hope Ballfield in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Across the road from Brooklyn’s 83rd Police Precinct Station, about fifty demonstrators congregated on October 4 at 6 P.M., prepared to march. There was a sense of familiarity amongst the small community of mostly women as they greeted each other warmly with hugs and laughter. After a brief moment of photos and interviews with a local television camera crew, the demonstrators, comprised of domestic violence survivors, advocates, city officials and policemen, marched three blocks to Hope Ballfield chanting, “Stop the violence!”

Some came with one or two supporting friends. Others were mothers who brought their children to march along. One older woman rallied in her wheelchair, policemen flanked on both sides in case she encountered a particularly bumpy patch of sidewalk or grass. A few marched alone, arms crossed with sweater hoods on.

As they reached the ballfield, dusk fell over the marchers. Shortly after, they raised their candles up to the sky, a few embraced in each others’ arms.

The march came a day after the New York Police Department (NYPD) released the city’s crime statistics. While reported crimes fell in seven categories, domestic crime is up three percent this year. Of the ten homicides last week, five were domestic in nature. Police personnel say it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why domestic crime is on the rise. However, NYPD will be adding more personnel to each police precinct to respond to the domestic abuse increase.

“Domestic violence is a very distinct type of crime,” said William W. Andrew, Deputy Commissioner for NYPD. “It’s much less susceptible to the standard patrols and techniques [compared to] other investigative cases.”

NYPD will hire two victim advocates for each of the 77 police precincts within the next three years, said Andrews. This is in addition to the one to seven Domestic Violence Unit officers that each precinct is assigned. The number depends on the size and number of incidences in each precinct.

Whether the new victim advocacy program will help lower domestic crime rates remains to be seen — but this could be a step in the right direction. With over 300 clients, Patricia Ross, executive director of the North Brooklyn Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says she has witnessed slow response times to domestic calls by city agencies including NYPD.

Given that domestic crimes happen inside homes, there needs to be more of a regular cadence of communication between victims and law enforcement to ensure their safety, said Ross.

Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed Ross’s statement on October 6 at WYNC’s Brian Lehrer Show when asked about the death of Zymere Perkins, a 6 year-old from Harlem who was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend. Despite prior involvement of several city agencies — including the NYPD, Administration for Children Service, Department of Education, and Homeless Services — none were able to prevent Perkins’ death due to a lack of communication. “There was not enough follow through in some ways from what we can see so far,” said Mayor de Blasio.