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Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, cultural or economic background. It is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior that becomes a systematic pattern of power and control. More often than not, a person is made a victim of domestic violence by a significant other/intimate partner. However victims of domestic violence can also be teenage children, parents of adult children or anyone with a mental illness who does not have the capacity to protect themselves ‐‐ there is no one type of victim of domestic violence.

Unfortunately, due to the emotional manipulation inflicted on victims by their abusers, victims often do not seek help. In Suffolk County alone, there are approximately 34,000 domestic incident reports made per year. Approximately 9000 of those incidents have an offense alleged, with 5000 domestic incidents resulting in an arrest.

We interviewed Sergeant Kelly Lynch who oversees the county‐wide unit based out of Suffolk’s 4th precinct in Hauppauge. There is NO “typical victim” Lynch tells us.

“Domestic violence has no boundaries and takes place in all communities, varying age groups and backgrounds, all economic levels, ethnicities, cultures, religions, all abilities and life styles.”

Sergeant Lynch was initially a police officer assigned to the 2nd precinct for eleven years. Upon promotion, she worked in Patrol, Precinct Crime Section and the Internal Affairs Bureau. She applied to the Domestic Violence Bureau (DVB) and was elated when she was assigned to the position.

“Police officers typically spend time arresting offenders in incidents of domestic violence. Although that is an important part of our job, it is also rewarding to help the victim and provide them with resources and information that they may not be aware of otherwise.”

The Domestic Violence Bureau consists of Sergeant Kelly Lynch and 4 additional officers, PO Rosemarie McCormick, PO Lisa Gross, PO Wendy Verlotte and PO Liz Gillesepie. They work closely with several advocacy organizations; in fact, there is an advocate from L.I. Against Domestic Violence (a not‐for‐profit organization), in each of the 7 precincts in Suffolk County. Together with advocates from several organizations they feel confident that they are making a difference.

“We cannot accurately measure or quantify the results of the work we do, but the professional advocates and organizations we work with assure us that we are helping to save lives.”

Sergeant Lynch expressed tremendous pride for being a member of the Suffolk County Police Department. Understandably so, the SCPD has adopted the strongest arrest policies in New York State and is among the top 5 in the country regarding domestic violence offenders. The DVB is using cutting edge technology, dedicated outreach and education to minimize repeat incidences, monitoring high risk situations while providing support and tools such as panic alarms, safety plans, and resources, including emergency shelters and access to advocacy groups.

“Initially, some victims seem disinterested in our concern, offer of support and advice. We don’t want to add to the level of stress that they’re already dealing with, however, we know that providing them with important information and resources, can ultimately help them to make a change that can potentially save their life.”

PO McCormick tells us that “domestic violence is rarely a random act of violence, it is a chronic situation and on average takes at least 7 incidences and interventions before a victim might be open to or seek help. There are a variety of reasons that victims remain in high-risk situations: they may be financially dependent, afraid being alone and in many cases they have been threatened and fear being beaten or even killed if they tell anyone or attempt to leave.”

Elder abuse cases are also part of the Bureau’s responsibility, which not only protects senior citizens but also serves any adult over 18 years of age and are unable to take care of themselves due to a physical disability or mental impairment. Most of these cases come as referrals from anonymous phone calls through Adult Protective Services (APS). The Bureau works in conjunction with caseworkers from APS to investigate these cases. The DV Bureau also works with advocates from the Victims Information Bureau (VIBS), which has advocates who specialize in dealing with elder abuse.

“We are not the first responders” says McCormick, “a domestic incident happens, Patrol handles it and we typically come in after the dust has settled.” She explains that they review all individual cases and arrests and based on the highest risk of repeat offense, they visit the victim unannounced, in plain clothes and undercover cars. “We are conscious of their privacy and really attempt to build trust and provide a safety net for the abused. So many victims don’t want the abuser to stay away, they don’t realize that this behavior is not normal, which is part of their rehabilitation.”

Elder abuse and domestic violence are continual problems in Suffolk County and across every community in the country. In order to support DVB’s efforts, the Suffolk County Police Department has adopted technology used in the Pattern Crimes Unit to identify abuse patterns early on, in order to potentially stop the cycle from continuing.

We have previously written about intelligence led policing being used in the Pattern Crimes Unit. The Suffolk County Police Department is markedly progressive, using this technology in the DVB as well. “The Domestic Violence Recidivism Risk Program (DVRRP) is not being used in this capacity anywhere this side of the country,” Sergeant Lynch states, referring to the progressive and proactive culture of the SCPD integrating technology into the DVB. “ The County Executive’s Office has been a huge proponent for our Department to integrate the use of this database driven rating and tracking system.” Prior to fully committing and integrating this technology into the department, the program was applied to prior domestics and reverse engineered to see if intimate partner domestic violence could be predicted and the results were compelling. This system is used to help identify patterns earlier, rate the risk of repeat offenders and thereby reduce the threat of additional danger to the victim.

The DVRRP is an algorithm, developed by Dr. Kris Henning from the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department of Portland State University. The intelligence led program uses an eight item scoring system, which is based on the offender’s gender, employment, education, age, ethnicity and contact with law enforcement (prior arrests, order of protection violations, history of domestic violence) to assess the offender’s likelihood of repeating a criminal incident of domestic violence.
Upon an offender’s arrest for a domestic violence offense, the algorithm is applied to the offender and the eight items are scored based upon information in the Suffolk County Police Department’s Arrest System and Incident Reporting System. The algorithm then assigns between 0 and 13 points to the offender, based upon the data. Offenders who score between 8 and 13 points, signifies that they are at the highest risk to re‐assault the victim. The Officers of the Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse
Bureau will then conduct outreach to the victims associated with the high‐risk offenders in an effort to protect them from predictable danger.

“With approximately 100 domestic incident reports the DV Bureau receives each day, this program is another tool that we use to help identify victims who may be at a greater risk of danger and provide outreach to them. Many of the victims we speak with tend to minimize the danger they are in or feel that it is an isolated incident. Sometimes it takes a police officer or an advocate to speak with them and explain the heightened risk category they are in. Through this program and through our other monitoring, we are helping to save lives in these dangerous domestic situations.”

The Domestic Victims Bureau also provides community presentations, whenever time allows, at community events. Most recently Sergeant Lynch lectured at Touro College in a Family Law class. It is not uncommon for someone in the classroom to come up to the officers after a presentation and confide that they or someone they know is going through an abusive situation. It sounds counterintuitive to say that is a good thing, however, telling someone is the first step to becoming free from abuse.

It is not only important to educate victims about their options and the available tools in place to help them change their lives. It is also crucial to educate all members of a community to be aware of an issue that is so prevalent in their surrounding neighborhoods. This will hopefully allow people to better understand a complex issue and enable them to identify a person in need of help. If you or someone you know is being abused in any way, please use the resource list provided on the next page and pick up the phone today!

Thank you to police officers of the Domestic Violence Bureau, the department and all the advocates who are working with the Suffolk County Police Department to end Domestic Violence.

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If you are a VICTIM of Domestic Violence PLEASE CALL:
Victim Information Bureau (VIBs) ‐ 631‐360‐3606/ www.vibs.org
Court advocates/accompaniment
Counseling
Children’s programs
Elder Abuse Program
Batterer’s program
Bilingual Services – Se Habla Espanol

Suffolk Coalition Against Domestic Violence (L.I. Against Domestic Violence) ‐
631‐666‐8833 (24 hour hotline)/ www.sccadv.org
Court and Precinct advocates
Counseling/Support Groups
Shelter
Children’s Programs
Bilingual Services – Se Habla Espanol

Crime Victims Center ‐ (631) 689‐2672 1 (888) ASK‐PFML
Crisis Intervention
Criminal Justice Advocacy
Medical and Legal Referrals
Counseling Services
Adult and Child Victims of Sexual Offenses

The Retreat – 631‐329‐2200 (24 hour hotline)/ www.theretreatinc.org
East End shelter
Counseling
Adult/Children services to non‐residents
Batterer’s Program
Bilingual Services – Se Habla Espanol

Brighter Tomorrows ‐631‐395‐1800 (24 hour hotline)/ www.brightertomorrowsli.or
Transitional Housing Program
Counseling
Court Advocacy
Non‐residential support group

Suffolk Women’s Services Help Line – 631‐853‐8222/Riverhead (Tuesday) 631‐852‐1603
Information
Referral

Suffolk County Crime Victim’s Center‐ 631‐689‐2672
New York State Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline‐ 1‐800‐942‐6906( 24 hour hotline/multi‐language)
Child Abuse Reporting ‐1‐800‐342‐3720 (24 hour confidential reporting) Suffolk County Adult Protective Services‐ 631‐854‐3195 OR 631‐854‐3196

Assists eligible adults without minor children who are at risk due to mental or physical impairments and have no one available to help.
Department of Social Services‐ 631‐854‐9100