New Task Force Will Address Domestic Violence

Ruth Hassell-Thompson

June 23, 2008

Senate Democrats introduced a new task force last week aimed at combating incest and domestic violence by making their eradication a state priority.

"Domestic violence should never be in the shadows," said Senate Minority Leader Malcolm A. Smith, D, WF-St. Albans. " of domestic abuse can carry their physical and emotional scars for a lifetime," said Smith, " all must look to bolster and improve support  for victims, as well as, to strengthen measures to combat continued acts of domestic violence."

Smith said domestic violence of  any kind is unacceptable and is a critical issue for the entire state. " are committed to making sure that anyone who engages in acts of violence, domestic violence in particular, that we will make sure that they are dealt with swiftly and punished to the full extent of the law," said Smith.

Senate Minority Task Force on Domestic Violence Chair Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson said the task force' ultimate goal is to keep families together.

" The escalation of violence in the home has a negative impact on every mother, father and child in a family," said Hassell-Thompson, D,WFBronx. " current procedures for handling domestic violence cases are erratic because there is no uniformity or conformity among law enforcement officials."

According to Senate Democrats, the new task force will work to stop domestic violence by creating or improving services for victims and survivors, while toughening penalties for batterers.

A five-year study conducted by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services reported that from 2001 to 2005, there were up to 450,000 domestic incidents reported to police departments throughout the state.

The study also showed that in 2007, the New York City Police responded to 229,354 domestic violence incidents — more than 600 incidents per day. Within the same year, domestic violence investigators made 76,602 home visits, a 98 percent increase since 2002.

A press release from Smith' office states that, not only were the domestic violence incidents in the report high, but federal statistics show more than half of all domestic violence crimes went unreported.

Sen. Kevin Parker, D,WF-Flatbush, said communities should be well informed about domestic abuse and understand that " violence, domestic abuse and incest are unacceptable."

"Love shouldn' hurt," said Parker.

Parker said the people of New York " to know that there are resources and help for them at every level." He said the task force will further create policies that will put an end to domestic violence and incest.

Along with Sens. Smith, Hassell-Thompson and Parker, members of the task force include Sens. Eric Adams, D-Brooklyn; Darrel Aubertine, D,WFCape Vincent; Neil Breslin, D-Albany; Efrain Gonzalez Jr., D- Bronx; Liz Krueger, D,WF-Manhattan; Susan Oppenheimer, D-Mamaroneck; and Eric Schneiderman, D,WF- Manhattan.

Krueger noted that on an annual basis, nationally there are approximately 15.5 million children who are exposed to domestic violence. She said there are " issues with confidentiality and protecting people who not only have escaped domestic violence but who still have to fear for their lives and their children' lives."

" Ultimately, the goal is to create policy that will end domestic violence," said Krueger.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said although violence can take place anywhere, such as in the work place and on the streets, " the most part, it takes place behind closed doors."

Johnson said the major issue is not dealing with violence after it has taken place; it is the lack of education people have about violence. He said educating young people will stop violence before it starts and argued there are better ways to handle issues that trigger violence.

Johnson noted that the views of violence have shifted because " are in a society where violence is everywhere," stating that violent video games and movies play a significant role in how society views abuse.

Johnson thanked Senate Democrats for creating the task force on domestic violence, which he said would " shed light on a problem of great, great concern."