This is the Second Annual New York State Domestic Violence Report. Our office, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, is the only State agency with the explicit mission to address domestic violence. However, we can only be successful in carrying out our mission with the continued collaboration of our colleague agencies as they develop new policies, conduct public awareness, and in a host of other ways support our efforts on this important issue.
Given the breadth of the State’s response to domestic violence, we decided this year that the Annual Report should become a publication of the New York State Domestic Violence Advisory Council (NYS DV Advisory Council). The Council includes representation from 14 State agencies, as well as 9 appointed members who represent a broad cross section of service-providers from advocates, to civil and criminal attorneys, to judges and legislators. By asking them to contribute to the production of this report, we hope that it will be as inclusive as possible of all of their efforts to show how the comprehensive nature of State government’s response to this issue. It will also include reports from the appointed members sitting on the Council, who represent a range of nonprofits, prosecutors, civil attorneys, and others. This summary illustrates that we apply the goal of a coordinated community response to ourselves.
In 2009, New York saw itself faced with one of the worst economic crisis in the history of the State – a situation that is ongoing – and we were all challenged to reduce costs yet maintain essential services to individuals most in need. This report highlights some of the impressive advances our State made despite these challenges. The legislature passed and the Governor signed an impressive package of legislation that should help hold offenders accountable, and protect victims from discrimination. We saw an upsurge in the state-initiated, but locally-supported public awareness campaign to “Shine the Light” on domestic violence by turning the state purple in October, which made it clear that everyone can participate in raising awareness at almost no cost, but with great effect. Significant fiscal commitments were made to strengthen systems’ response to domestic violence in both the criminal justice and human services fields that will reduce burdens on localities, and help us to collect the information necessary to ensure that offenders can be prosecuted effectively. New York State received two important Federal grants; one which will enable two supervised visitation programs to run locally in Brooklyn and Oswego counties, and another that will provide training tools to police officers, advocates, and supervising agencies across the state at no cost to them. New York’s expertise continues to grow in this field, and our report ends with the plans we have for 2010 and beyond.
We at OPDV, and on behalf of all of our government colleagues, want to extend our deepest thanks for the tireless work everyone on the ground does to support victims in their basic right to attain a safe and secure life. We cannot do it alone. Please let us know what more needs to be done, and how we can help you in your work.