(WNY News Now) – New York State has unveiled a comprehensive set of measures designed to address the pressing issue of domestic violence. These initiatives encompass a range of strategies, from updated law enforcement guidelines to expanded legal tools and support for survivors.
Albany – Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a comprehensive set of measures designed to address the pressing issue of domestic violence. These initiatives encompass a range of strategies, from updated law enforcement guidelines to expanded legal tools and support for survivors.
Law Enforcement Domestic Incident Model Policy
One of the key components of Governor Hochul’s plan is the introduction of the Law Enforcement Domestic Incident Model Policy. This policy outlines a trauma-informed and survivor-centered approach to dealing with domestic incidents. It provides police officers and supervisors with best practices and procedures aimed at promoting the safety of both victims and officers, connecting individuals with essential services and support, and preserving evidence of a crime. This policy marks a significant shift in law enforcement practices since the last guidance was issued in 2010.
This policy acknowledges the importance of assessing potential lethality factors when responding to domestic incidents, such as a partner’s access to firearms, prior incidents of violence, and other threats. It also encourages officers to rely on victims’ own words when documenting incidents and emphasizes the need to notify individuals about critical civil legal services they can access. Additionally, it recognizes the role of trauma and coercive control in victims’ responses and encourages the use of body-worn cameras while respecting victims’ wishes regarding recording.
Importantly, while the Law Enforcement Domestic Incident Model Policy provides a comprehensive framework, police departments and sheriffs’ offices are not mandated to adopt it. Instead, it serves as a guide for agencies to develop policies tailored to the unique needs of their communities.
Expansion of the Red Flag Law
In the aftermath of racially motivated murders at a Buffalo supermarket in 2022, Governor Hochul has significantly expanded the state’s Red Flag Law, officially known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Law. This law is designed to prevent individuals who exhibit signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms, while ensuring due process protections. In light of this expansion, the Governor has allocated $1 million to fund training and technical assistance for community-based organizations. These organizations will assist potential ERPO petitioners, such as family members, school officials, and healthcare providers, in identifying extreme risk behavior and navigating the legal process. The aim is to enhance the utilization of this critical public safety law. The initiative will be carried out in collaboration with the state’s 10 Domestic Violence Regional Councils.
Legislation for Survivors
Governor Hochul has also signed two pieces of legislation that further support survivors of domestic violence:
The “Hope Card Act” (S.5935/A.5040) directs the state Office of Court Administration to develop a program for issuing cards containing information about final orders of protection at no cost to individuals. This will empower survivors to enforce their orders without needing to carry their official copies. New York is the sixth state to implement a Hope Card program.
The second legislation (S.5915/A.5347) requires the State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to distribute informational materials on economic abuse. Economic abuse, a prevalent but often overlooked form of domestic violence, impacts more than 90% of survivors. The materials will provide connections to housing resources, local social service offices, and more to help individuals attain safety and stability.
Governor Hochul’s commitment to addressing domestic violence stems from a personal connection to the issue. She emphasized her family’s founding of a transitional home for survivors in Western New York and her mother’s lifelong advocacy for domestic abuse victims.
“I’m committed to leading an administration that treats survivors with dignity and respect,” Governor Hochul stated. “These actions build on my administration’s ongoing commitment to help survivors and provide them with the resources, support, and information they need to recover and rebuild.”
The roundtable discussion with survivors in Albany, attended by State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owens and Safe Horizon Chief Executive Officer Liz Roberts, served as a foundation for future policies to address domestic and gender-based violence.