Thursday, December 15, 2011

Allowing Past History to Shed Light On The Present:New York State Launches a New Approach to Domestic Incident Reports

Yesterday was a transformational day for domestic violence advocates, domestic abuse survivors, and the criminal justice system in New York State. The state unveiled a new Domestic Incident Report (DIR) Repository that will give immediate access to law enforcement about past domestic incidents, providing amore cohesive criminal justice response to domestic incidents. This information in a DIR is invaluable as it helps responders to better understand the pattern of abuse as they respond to an incident. It also provides judges with information about past course of conduct, thereby painting a picture so the judge can better understand the pattern of abuse.
The DIR report is nothing new. Police officers regularly fill out very comprehensive forms whenever responding to a domestic incident. The problem is that those forms, until now, have not been accessible to law enforcement and court personnel in other counties. So as District Attorney Murphy explained yesterday, a victim may live in Saratoga County and work in Albany. There may be a history of domestic incidents in the home, but when that victim is stalked in the workplace responding officers are unaware of the repeated police interventions at the home and the pattern of abuse and threats.  

The domestic incident reports are submitted to the Division of Criminal Justice Services where they are methodically filed chronologically. DCJS received almost 800 of these reports a day! They have an entire storage area filled with pallets, each pallet containing a quarter of a million reports!
And that’s the problem. Each report contains valuable information about whether the abuser threatened the victim’s life, whether a weapon was used, and whether there is an order of protection in place… but that information is buried in a mountain of other similar reports. It’s the proverbial needle in the haystack… at least until yesterday.
Now within seconds that information can be called up as the officer is heading to respond to the incident. Judges can access the past history when reviewing a case … and victims can be assured that when they are in fear or in danger and need to call the police, that their safety is the highest concern. Yesterday was a day to give thanks for the hard work being done to ensure safety and respond to domestic abuse.
My thanks to the many people who had this vision and who have been working for over a decade to make this happen!

1 comment:

  1. I'm not generally a fan of immediate and overloaded information EXCEPT when it comes to someone's safety. I think the ability to have context and background is critical for all involved in cases of domestic violence - for their own welfare and those that they serve. Bravo NYS!